Today is Thanksgiving Day…
Near Inle Lake

Last month, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving Day while other countries celebrate their own versions of this holiday on different days. In 1621, the Pilgrims had the first Thanksgiving Day with Native Americans. Interestingly, the Pilgrims were immigrants without green cards. Fortunately for the Pilgrims, Trump wasn’t president of the Native Americans. He would have tied to deport them like he has with Muslims, Mexicans, Haitians, and blacks, but I digress.

Thanksgiving Day didn’t become a national holiday officially until 1863. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it as a national holiday. Lincoln was thankful that the Union forces had finally won several battles with the Confederates. Prior to those victories, the Union hadn’t many reasons for giving thanks during the early part of the war over slavery.

Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving Day

Interestingly, 157 years later, America celebrated Thanksgiving last month while issues of racism, discrimination, and killings of blacks remains a part of the fabric of our American life. We face issues of white supremacy that can be seen in our fake president, many members of Congress, and lots of Americans. While I’m optimistic that President-Elect Biden will be able to replicate Lincoln’s attempt restore “a more perfect union,” it will be exceedingly difficult task.

So, that is the backstory. This essay is about another Thanksgiving Day. This Thanksgiving Day was first observed on December 30, 2017. Three years ago, I celebrated with my family our Thanksgiving Day at the Nyaung Shwe Restaurant, not far from Inle Lake in Myanmar. In my previous essay, I wrote about our family’s Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve celebration last year.

This year, it was celebrated without me. Additionally, it wasn’t at our family’s favorite eatery, the Nyaung Shwe Restaurant. COVID-19 pandemic has shut down nearly everything in Myanmar from restaurants to in-person schools. Moh Moh just sent these photos of their meal that she prepared.

I have had many meals with my family at many places while we toured together as a family last year. I have absolutely no idea what we have eaten or drank while traveling together. Nevertheless, there isn’t anything that I didn’t enjoy. Additionally, I have had many meals with my family in their home that they call the Blue House.

This photo is of Fatty, Snow, Ko Ko, Moh Moh, and Ti Ti. The next photo is a closeup of Snow having their cat wave to me.

So, how was it that I discovered my family? On my first trip, Moh Moh was my tour guide. We had to stop at her home to get my itinerary after leaving the area of Inle Lake. She mentioned that Ti Ti would be home on winter break. We walked into their living room to see Ti Ti who was nine-year-old. Ti Ti greeted me, “Hi! My name is Ti Ti. Do you want to play some games?” We sat on their living room for nearly an hour playing Scrabble much of the time was laughing and joking around.

Ti Ti and I are both first-borns. First-borns are extremely competitive and driven to succeed at whatever they do. That being said, I wasn’t trying to beat Ti Ti. I was just enjoying playing Scrabble with a nine-year-old kid.

Nevertheless, Ti Ti wanted to win. At the end of the game, I was getting up when Ti Ti told me to sit back down and wait until she added up the score. I did what I was told to do and sat back down. I quietly watched her add up the score. In less than a minute, she proudly announced, “I won. I did bet you.” My retort was to her statement was my sticking my finger in her face and said, “Don’t you ever forget get this. You beat me in my game, in my language, in your country.”

That was seven years ago, and Ti Ti remembers my response to her beating me. I have mentioned my comment to her in dozens of articles, and I have reminded her often on my last two trips.

This is Ti Ti last year at a high school award ceremony. She won first place in math for the entire Shan State where she lives.

I’m thankful for meeting Ti Ti and her younger sisters. I was about to end this essay when Ginger came up to my desk and wanted to go out. I told her to give me a couple of minutes as I wrapped up this essay about being thankful for Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty. Then we got ready to go out. I realized that it had snowed several inches.

Ginger ran out and played in the snow for a while. Then she came back and sat down as if she was pondering. She asked, “I’m confused. You call this snow and one of your granddaughter’s name is Snow. How can that be?” I told Ginger that I would explain the difference between snow and Snow later.