Turkeys, Christmas Sweaters, and Cranberry Sauce

I hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving!

We celebrated in style again this year.  Twenty of us stayed at Conforzi Cottage for the weekend and with the help of our amazing Malawian chefs, put together a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

Thanksgiving Dinner for 20

Our friend Mike was able to source two turkeys from Liwonde.  We toyed with the idea of bringing live turkeys to preside over the weekend in ceremonial capacity, you know, smiling, waving, posing for pictures – but as turkeys are loud, dirty, and mean as hell, we went with the two dead ones.  Mike did, however, make sure we had enough turkey feathers to decorate accordingly.  Mike also brought amazing child-sized Christmas sweaters from the market to get is all in the festive spirit.

Haute Christmas Sweaters

We had seven nationalities represented and for a large majority, this was their first thanksgiving.  Sandy and Mike were responsible for the turkeys, which came out perfectly.  They were then carved Malawian style into hunks rather than slices.

Sandy's Got This.

I tried to make cornbread, but unfortunately bought corn starch instead of corn flour.  I basically ended up making cakey bread with corn in it.  The Evans’ Spinach Casserole was a big hit.  I am beginning to learn that if you put enough cream cheese in something, it’s going to be a crowd pleaser.  Jen made delicious homemade stuffing and pumpkin pie, but I missed mama’s oyster dressing and consume rice.  We also had five cans of my cranberry sauce (bought at the low low price of $35).  What is Thanksgiving without canned cranberry sauce served in a can-shape, complete with ridges so you know where to slice it?

The British contingency added their own dish, called Bread Sauce (or something like that).  When they described it (with words like mushy, porridge, dissolved bead) I was nervous but it turned out to be very good, however, especially when added to turkey and cranberry sauce.

Note Bread Sauce Next to Salad

With a group of 20 (where the boys for once! outnumbered the girls) we had lots of games on the big expanse of beach, including kickball, French cricket, garden cricket, football, and “roof ball” (which is a newly created game that is sure to take off and become an international phenomenon).  In Roof Ball, the players throw the ball up on the roof and then tackle, bite, push, and shove each other to catch it as it bounces down.  The roof is corrugated tin so the bounces are unpredictable.  It’s really a dynamic spectator sport – the spectators sit on the steps under the roof, so really, all we can see are priceless facial expressions of intense concentration and competitiveness, like this:

Sheer Determination

And Athletic Ability

Make this a Great Spectator Sport

Saturday night we had the most spectacular thunderstorms – the lightening was constant and lit up the whole lake.  The rain poured down in torrents and thunder rumbled all night.  It made driving home down the dirt driveway a challenge, but was awesomely beautiful.

Getting Stuck after the Rains

We missed our friends and family terribly but have so much to be thankful for, including…

that we live in such a beautiful country

that we live with such wonderful people

that we are challenged everyday to learn and grow outside of our comfort zone

that we didn’t have live turkeys at the weekend

that we have such loving friends

that we have such amazing family

that our families are so understanding of our wanting to live here

for skype (when it works!!!)

for comments on our blog posts

for getting to go home for Christmas

for jobs we love

for happy memories of so many past Thanksgivings

And we are mindful  …

that we don’t have the stresses of a subsistence farmer, unlike 85% percent of Malawians who are counting the days of rain, hurrying to plant, praying for fertilizer subsidies, and uncertain of the harvest.

that brave people have put their lives on the line to protest for change

that Malawi has some tough days ahead

that we have a lot to learn from those cute children who smile and wave at us


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7 responses to “Turkeys, Christmas Sweaters, and Cranberry Sauce

  1. Anonymous

    What a wonderful holiday! Can’t wait to see you after Christmas–we’ll start scouting roofs for a new tournament.

    Love, Aunt Katherine

  2. Susie Carter

    WHAT a Thanksgiving you had! Thank you for letting us enjoy it via your blog. I’m with Katherine, we will start scouting roofs for the new game. . . I think it will be in the Olympics in a few short cycles of the summer games! And your list of things for which you are Thankful and Mindful is wonderful and gave me chills. SO glad you have Malawi and that Malawi has you 20!
    Love Susie/Mama

  3. Barb

    Wonderful wonderful! Enjoyed every word in your Thanksgiving letter. It sounded like a fantastic celebration and we thank YOU for sharing it with us. You did better than we did in Mexico – we had bbq’d chickens, corn on the cob, green peas and salad. NONE of us missed the traditional dishes and were delighted, as you were, with the company around the table. AND we are thankful to you and Sandy for blogs!!!

  4. Anonymous

    Mike, That will be a Thanksgiving that you will always remember and talk about often on future Thanksgivings. I am so impressed with what you are doing and brag about you to all my friends. Being home for Christmas will be so special and I know your Mom, Dad and Brian are very excited. I doubt we will see you but will be thinking about you. Aunt Maryellen and Uncle Jim

  5. Anonymous

    Awesome Kate. Just awesome. We are so blessed and so very thankful for you and Sandy and your love that brings so many people together. 19 days and counting

  6. Aunt Joanie

    Mike, The entire Wagoner gang is impressed with your work. Thanksgiving will be such a wonderful memory. Enjoy roof ball – sounds like a fun game – Now we will enjoy that each summer in Chicago! Aunt Joanie

  7. Pingback: Out of Africa | Muli Bwanji Y'all!

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