Our two months in Southeast Asia came to an end at the end of November as we headed to New Zealand. We arrived in Christchurch a few days before Thanksgiving, ready to celebrate our first holiday outside of the US.
For us, Thanksgiving has always been filled with family, friends, and traditions. Even though we’ve celebrated the last few years in San Francisco rather than Indianapolis, we’ve had my sister and many friends join us and we’ve carried on traditions of foods that our families have made for years. We’ve also enjoyed making our own traditions, like oyster shucking in Tomales Bay the Friday after Thanksgiving. So, while the idea of celebrating the holiday in a new place was odd, the prospect of bringing our traditions to a new place and making unique memories was exciting.
A few weeks earlier, we found out that our time in New Zealand would overlap with our dear friends Kyle and Johnny by one day: November 24, which meant that we would get to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones after all. We booked the most lovely Airbnb – an farmhouse built with all reclaimed wood and including many quaint details – in Christchurch. And we spent the day hanging on the front porch and on the picnic table in the backyard, watching American football, and cooking as close to a “traditional” Thanksgiving meal as we could find ingredients for. We had lots of cheese and crackers for an appetizer, mashed potatoes and asparagus and rolls, and although a rotisserie chicken took the place of turkey, it was just as fabulous.
During dinner we reminisced about the places we had traveled together over the past few months, and we each shared our favorite moments. A South African safari, ostrich riding on the Garden Route, an overnight train ride in Thailand, a night out with locals in Chiang Mai, the Festival of Lights in Luang Prabang, kayaking and squid fishing in Ha Long Bay, wading through floods in Siem Reap, and eating our weight in Penang Curry in the Thai Islands. Whew! How lucky we are to have shared so many adventures together.
We spent the rest of the night playing games, drinking wine, laughing about our travel mishaps, and talking about our eventual return to reality. Certainly a Thanksgiving to remember.