janky: (adjective) inferior quality; held in low social regard; old and delapidated; refers almost exclusively to inanimate material objects, not to people.

source: urban dictionary or the dictionary of my generation


I usually use the term janky when describing a messy car or an appliance that won’t work, but the word seemed to suit the Thanksgiving gathering at my house quite well, which is why Alana decided to call it a Janksgiving Party. I’d only invited a handful of friends, as my apartment isn’t massive, and I had no idea what anyone was bringing. I had no turkey decorations and the spirit of Thanksgiving wasn’t really going on. My school had the students make “Thanksgiving cookies”, meaning they put pumpkin seeds on pre-made dough and then the cafeteria workers baked it and my students kept thinking that the story of the holiday was that England taught India things so yeah, there wasn’t a festive feeling in the air. That could have been because this is Taiwan and it was like a California summer day outside…fall foliage was nowhere to be seen and unlike home, there wasn’t fat, unaware turkeys wobbling around the roads.


Taiwan may not have the Thanksgiving weather or understanding of the holiday but they do have Costco and that’s American as you can get. Alana, Jon, and I went hunting for goodies. Thankfully, Jon is American and knew what I was searching for but Alana, from England, kept muttering things about “gross marshmallow dishes”. We ended up leaving the warehouse with rotisserie chickens (let’s be real. those taste better than turkey), a cobb salad, wine, a cheesecake, martinelli’s apple cider, and…a jar of pickles. Nothing about that screams Thanksgiving but we figured we could get creatively janky and put some whip cream and pumpkin spice on the cheesecake and well, the pickles were just for Jon’s cravings (he may or may not be pregnant…).

i mean, why hate on this glory?

Thanksgiving arrived (metaphorically because we were celebrating it a weekend early) at my house when Phoung, Michael, and Mary showed up to make a pasta dish and mashed potatoes. Phuong was not impressed with my one burner and lack of kitchenware. My apartment came unfurnished, kitchen wise. You expect me to buy plates or something?? Please, I am here for one year or so. Metal cutlery is a major commitment. I also had no microwave so we needed to eat dishes as soon as they were made. I like to call that a ten course meal…others may say, that is one janky ass way to eat. And so, Thanksgiving was kicked off by consuming plates of cheesy pasta!

michael and his pasta dish.

michael and his pasta dish.

Caley and Regina had also arrived bearing packets of bacon and buckets of grapes because we needed just a little more jank to represent Alana’s homemade Janksgiving sign. We all crowded around my tiny table and dug in, drinking wine and blabbing away. Regina decided to make whiskey apple cider mixed drinks which….tasted just like watery whiskey. It wouldn’t have been Janksgiving without them.


our lovely banner

our lovely banner


fantastic chicken presentation by phuong and regina

The meal ended with me on the ground, near a pile of shoes, trying to make the cheesecake look festive. Alana looked at me with disdain but I tried to remind myself that this holiday is all about celebrating the people who escaped her country, so then I felt better.


It wasn’t the classiest Thanksgiving nor the most sentimental, but we did go to a farm afterwards and eat samosas so I’d say it was the perfect Janksgiving. Plus, it was featured in NPR so…pretty big fucking deal 😉

http://www.npr.org/blogs/theprotojournalist/2013/11/28/247164653/project-xpat-thank-you-for-posting (it’s the last one. for we save the best for last haha!)


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