As a child I wasn’t a big fan of Thanksgiving. It was fun to stay home from school and see my family, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the food. I realize this is a controversial stance. Even my current self looks back at my child self with judgement.
Two years ago, I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner for just Sean and I. And I loved the entire process. So many lists and meticulous timing for everything was almost therapeutic for my OCD leaning brain. I also loved finding the best ingredients. We lived close to an Amish market that supplied us with fresh turkeys so I never had to deal with the painstaking thawing process. It was so much fun.
Then we moved to Tajikistan. And things got a little more complicated.
I’m not going to go into a big explanation of the food situation here. Basically, there are limited choices and limited quantities which is why we get a consumables shipment from the U.S. for dry goods and liquids. This country also imports most of its food – especially frozen food – and we are at the end of a long supply line. This means most frozen things have been thawed and refrozen several times. It’s not the most healthy situation.
We also don’t have a commissary here. So how on Earth do we get frozen things – such as turkey for Thanksgiving? In comes the frozen food orders.
We are lucky to have an American Employee Association (AEA) at this post. Without them we’d be stuck with the local frozen food and Sean and I would be forced vegetarians since almost all local meat has made us sick. The AEA does two frozen food orders each year. We get a huge catalog with everything from frozen sausages, to blueberries, to jalapenos, to blue cheese dressing. Normally these orders take about two months to arrive.
In June, however, we get the important list. The holiday specialty items including, you guessed it, 22 lb. turkeys. Those orders go in five months early in hopes that they will arrive in time for Thanksgiving. Key words there: in hopes.
I’m no expert on how exactly these birds are shipped to Dushanbe, but I can make my best guess. First they have to get to Europe which means crossing the Atlantic Ocean somehow. Then, I believe, they drive from Germany. Yep. Drive. From Germany.
If you’re not familiar with geography, let me enlighten you a little bit. There are a few major obstacles or a U.S. diplomatic shipment by land from Germany to Tajikistan. Russia for one, Iran for another. They can’t mess with the contents of the shipment of course. But they can mess with the truck, or customs paperwork, or anything else that will cause a delay.
I’m not sure what exactly happened this year but the truck arrived on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving. By close of business that day, we weren’t sure if it would arrive at all so we all went home with contingency plans in mind. Then, just after I sat down for some pre-Black Friday online shopping with a glass of wine, we got the call. Turkeys had landed in Dushanbe.
Since it was a large order, AEA needed help sorting everything out and unpacking the truck. And since many of the Board members are our friends, Sean and I went to help. Once everything in the holiday order was accounted for, we split the deliveries among ourselves. Normally we would wait and have people pick stuff up the next day, but it’s Thanksgiving! People need turkeys, damnit!
Nothing is ever easy though, and the turkeys were still 100% frozen the day before the holiday. Our group decided to just postpone dinner to a different day so we didn’t have to rapidly thaw a turkey and ruin a meal that was so highly desired. Instead we stayed home with chicken noodle soup and hot apple cider (spiked with rum obviously). It wasn’t a bad day in the least.
If nothing else, this year will live in Sean and my memories as the Year We Saved Thanksgiving. Sort of.