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Giving Thanksgiving thanks easy on Okinawa

Date Posted: 2010-11-21

Thanksgiving is upon us; in less than a week the aroma of turkey will waft through the air in many places across Okinawa and one of the biggest harvest festivals will get under way. Harvest festivals have been celebrated around the world since time immemorial, the modern holiday we call Thanksgiving is generally considered to date back to 1621. Following a long and brutal winter, the Pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest in the New World with a Thanksgiving feast.

The key player in Thanksgiving is, of course, the turkey, an oft maligned bird. Benjamin Franklin argued that the turkey, and not the bald eagle, should be the national symbol of America, claiming that the “vain and silly” turkey was a far better choice than the bald eagle, which he thought was a “coward.” Although they are generally seen as large and ungainly, turkeys are many more things than just white and dark meat on the dinner table. Consider: Turkeys can fly up to 55 mph over short distances, run up to 25 mph on the ground, have excellent hearing but no ears, have a poor sense of smell but can see in color, have a 270 degree field of vision, making them difficult to sneak up on, and they sometimes sleep in trees.

More than 45 million turkeys are prepared and eaten in the United States for Thanksgiving each year, and Okinawa’s Thanksgiving-celebrating community will be indulging in their share. The five most popular ways to eat the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving includes: soups or stews, sandwiches, casseroles, stir-fries and salads, and oh yes, age does matter. Older male turkeys are generally considered to be tastier than young males thought to be stringy, or females who are described as tough.

There’s no place safe for turkeys this year here. In fact, the turkey is a wanted species. Turkey dinners, banquets, take-away meals and buffets abound. The Seamen’s Club will host a Thanksgiving buffet from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with turkey, ham and all the trimmings for only $17.95 for adults and $9.95 for youngsters. The full menu’s available in this issue of Japan Update. The Seamen’s Club is located in Naha, between Naha Military Port and Naha International Airport. Reservations are available at DSN 648-7493 or Civ. (098) 857-1753.

Traditional buffets will be the order of the day at Marine Corps Community Services clubs across the island. The Surfside at Camp Kinser, Butler Officers Club, and Tengan Castle at Camp Courtney all operate buffets from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $17.95, while The Palms at Camp Hansen buffet runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $15.95. The Habu Pit at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, the BeachHead at Camp Schwab and the Ocean Breeze at Camp Foster will have buffets from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for $27.95, except at the BeachHead, which will cost $15.95.

Kadena Air Base’s Rocker NCO Club is doing things slightly differently. It’s doing a Thanksgiving Drive-by Dinner from 4 p.m. ~ 6 p.m. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans and a dinner roll are on the menu for only $8, a $1 member discount.

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