As best as I can tell, there are no turkeys in Japan. It seems to be a species of fowl entirely foreign to this part of the world. Everyone I ask looks at me as if I were talking about a Wattled Curassow or an Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill when I say the word turkey. When I try to describe what a turkey looks like, which inevitably involves some amount of pantomime, everyone says, “Ahhh,” and directs me to the local KFC (“Kentucky Fly Chicken.”)
It’s tough on a guy whose favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, let me tell you. Here, it’s just another day. Tomorrow, of course, is another story. November 23 is another one of those traditional Japanese holidays whose very name can put people to sleep: Industry Day. Doesn’t that sound exciting? “Hey everybody, are you getting hyped for Industry Day?!” Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… It’s actually a national holiday, copped originally from a harvest celebration, now dedicated to workers everywhere and low federal taxes (I do not kid). It’s occasionally known by the ever so slightly sexier appellation “Labour Thanksgiving Day.” The law establishing the holiday cites it as “an occasion for commemorating labor and production.” (You think I kid? I do not.)
It’s the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve really missed America. And I realize it’s not actually America that I miss, or even the food or football or the Blue Nun. It’s not just the wailing children or the drunken political arguments or being assigned turkey-carving duty and botching it spectacularly and trying not to bleed onto the serving platter, at least not obviously. It’s not having to pretend to like Ambrosia salad, even though it’s the most unnatural and disagreeable holiday foodstuff since the invention of fruitcake. It’s all of that wonderful crap. Because it’s all inseparable from the people with whom we’ve experienced it all our lives. As much as we talk about dreading the holidays – and we do, rightfully so – we dread not being able to spend them the way we always have even more.
Send turkey sandwiches and Blue Nun.