Saturday, November 29, 2008


We were a day late in Manila, but it was still Thanksgiving in America yesterday, and so my son and I celebrated Thanksgiving last night. Nothing fancy, just a simple dinner, but with the holiday staple turkey as he requested.

He has always asked for turkey around this time. Two years ago, I just bought some KFC chicken and mashed potato (still an American dinner, I reasoned), but he said you’re supposed to have turkey on Thanksgiving. And so last year, I started turkey hunting in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving.

As my friends know, I’d rather eat out than buy something and cook it. Turkey seemed demanding, and so I didn’t get a whole one and attempt to roast it. Alas, only the big hotels seemed to serve turkey for Thanksgiving. Budget was tight last year, so I just bought 400 grams of turkey breast and a jar of cranberry jelly at Santi’s Delicatessen on Timog Avenue. I also went for a big order of mashed potato from KFC, and surfed the Net frantically for tips on how to cook turkey breast.

I ended up applying a salt-pepper-and-whatever-herb-on-the-pantry rub on the turkey breast steaks last year then pan-fried it in olive oil. Surprisingly, it was good.

This year, I went to TGI Friday’s expecting it to have a turkey dish I can just take home and serve at dinner. Did you know that they don’t have a single dish with turkey? I ended up ordering chicken fingers instead.

And so it was back to Santi’s for 400 grams of turkey breast and a bottle of cranberry jelly again. I applied a salt-pepper-basil rub on the turkey steak for 30 minutes, then pan-fried it in olive oil. Good thing my sister’s balikbayan boxes arrived yesterday, and so I was able to use the turkey gravy I found in one of the boxes. Perfect.

With or without turkey, I think the Philippines should have a holiday such as Thanksgiving too. There is so much to be thankful for, yet so much busyness around us that we need a reminder to stop and count our blessings. In my case alone, I have so much to thank God for: a peaceful life, a wonderful son, supportive parents, caring siblings, and nephews and nieces who make me smile and who love to discover new restaurants like I do. I thank God for letting me write and edit for a living, which is what I really want to do, after trying to obey my dad to pursue a career in finance (for the sake of the CPA title).

About that last bit, my college classmates, husband and wife Orlie and Mylene, pointed that out yesterday when I bumped into them at Friday’s. They knew I was writing, and commented that that was what I wanted to do even way back in high school (Mylene was a high school batchmate too). My other high school classmate Gezelee said the same thing when she was in town from the US a few months ago. She said, “Wow, Karen, congratulations! You did it!” She said she knew I wanted to write since back in high school and is happy I have pursued writing as a career.

Back to Orlie and Mylene. We had a good laugh after we realized we were all doing something far different from accounting, our course in college. Mylene is taking her MA in Library Science now, while Orlie just finished Nursing and is waiting to take the NCLEX. Lesson for the day: Let your kids choose their own college course, something they really want. I think it is such a blessing to be given the privilege to do what you want to do for the rest of your life.

Still there is much to be thankful for: the opportunity to work from home and be with my son more, the privilege of being with my parents at their old age (Mommy will be 78 next year and Daddy will be 80!), our hardworking helper Rose, our talkative mynah Garci (who can not only talk but beep like a car, bark like a dog, cackle like a rooster, and whistle like my sister’s driver), and our army of dogs who keep us company and scare the pusakals or pusang kalye: Joker, Jaya, Brownie, Pretty, and Pacquiao. I thank God for this home I grew up in, which, even after I lived elsewhere, is still home to me. And I thank God for the other home he’s preparing for me, the one in heaven.

Thanksgiving—have you stopped and counted your blessings?

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

BOOK OF THE WEEK: My high school batchmate Analyn “Anne” Arce just recently launched her romantic novel The Caped Charmer, published by Fox Literary House. What started out as an accident with coffee with a Superman-like hunk turned into a kilig love story. Not at all cheesy, but cute and engaging. Happy thoughts!