Friendsgiving in Bali. It's gorgeous and no loony right wing uncles allowed.
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
There are times Bali feels like another planet and you wonder WTF am I doing here? But there are other times it feels like you've landed in paradise and you congratulate yourself for making all the excellent life choices that brought you to this moment on this island with these people. This year, Thanksgiving (aka Friendsgiving) was one of those congratulatory moments when everything in the world seemed to be as it should: welcoming, thankful, bountiful, and full of laughter.
Like everything good in Bali, Friendsgiving started with a WhatsApp group text. Next comes the subgroup text groups, Turkey Talk and Bitches Be Cookin'. I don't remember how life ran without WhatsApp. We didn't use it in LA and now it's my everything.
Those gorgeous floral THANKFUL letters have an ugly secret
Green School has the world's most amazing woven letters and signs. Every time I see a new one, I'm blown away. So I went around and took some photos of different weavings, different types of grasses and effects and I drew out what I wanted for our floral piece-de-resistance. The floral guys were texting me pictures to clarify what I wanted and we came up with this idea for a 4 meter high woven turkey...then settled on the letters because we knew they'd look amazing on the edge of the pool. I was feeling stoked. Then the day came for the installation and the letters were STYROFOAM. Holy shit. This is fucking Green School Thanksgiving and my decor will last 1000 years!! I was gutted. But in Bali you get what you get. Be Thankful for whatevs. We covered up those styrofoam letters, pretended they were woven from sustainable coconut grass, and poured ourselves huge glasses of wine.
We went (mostly) local.
Our aim was to go fully local for the food, but some things (hello wine and cranberries!) just can't be found on Bali. Surprisingly, a local guy raises turkeys. Even with a Green School vegetarian crowd, it took 7 turkeys to get the job done. Poor things were a bit skinny but definitely looked hormone free. Cooking 7 turkeys is no easy feat when many villas don't have ovens so it took a community effort.
Cooking started at our villa by 7:15 in the morning. Several teams of women (seriously, in 2019 it was still just women) cooked in different villas, sending food over as it was finished by Gojek. Dinner was served (on time!) at 6:30. We set up a movie theater in the guest house and the kids watched Home Alone and raided the sweets table.
Welcome All. Give Thanks. Eat and Repeat.
Although we expected Thanksgiving to be a gathering of Americans, us Yanks were actually a minority. Apparently word about how awesome Thanksgiving is has spread far. The Lithuanians, Israelis, Indians, Slovakians, Aussies, Hungarians, Brits...are all down for a feast. For a puritan pilgrim holiday, the message of Thanksgiving is surprisingly adaptable. All us expats and international crew live far from our birth home, on an island of new Gods, welcomed by locals. We made the journey and give thanks for community, bounty, nature and family. In a world where things seem to be pulling apart at the seams, we were extraordinarily grateful to share the evening with so many loving and sane friends.