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Can You Buy a Turkey in China?

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday in the history of holidays. Anything that involves food, friends and wine is up my alley, but there is definitely something special about this day – and it’s not just my Mom’s sausage stuffing (although I’m sure people could write songs about it).  Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on this great country and give back to the community, while also spending much needed quality time with loved ones. It just doesn’t get better than that for me.

Recently, I was chatting with colleagues about some of the international relocations we are managing and it dawned on me: How will they celebrate this year? Can you buy a turkey in China?!

Can you buy a turkey in China?We have the expertise here to point our transferees in the right direction, but I was curious to know how hard it would be to have Thanksgiving dinner in any country with few resources. Naturally, I took my questions to Twitter.

Within moments, I received a message back from my friend @CeppyJ who had spent Thanksgiving in France. Apparently, even in the ultimate foodie city, it was not easy.

“I struggled to pull together the meal. We found turkey, but the oven was too small, so we had cutlets and pan-sautéed them. We could not find cranberries or cranberry sauce and there was no stuffing. We did find little French potatoes, but not the golden sweets I’m used to.  We had fun with it, but I missed my favorites and that made me a little homesick.”

And THAT made me a little sad. Most international assignees are homesick enough. It’s really important that they have a chance to make the best out of the holidays, especially ones that are wholly American like Thanksgiving (or even the Fourth of July). So, in the spirit of the season, below are some tips for HR managers who want to help their transferees celebrate American holidays abroad:

  • Provide welcome bags for the children that are filled with “Thanksgiving” (or other holiday) information and decorations including coloring books, crayons, cut-outs etc.
  • Suggest assignees decorate their home for the holiday – and provide the decorations if they are not  available in the host country.
  • Work with relocation partners at destination to provide a list of grocery stores that may carry holiday foods, such as turkeys. Be sure to advise employees to order in advance and, if that food is not available, offer suggestions for readily available substitutes (for example, chicken instead of turkey).
  • Help educate assignees on some of the local traditions and celebrations that will occur during their assignment so they could start new traditions.
  • Connect new assignees with other American families that may be celebrating the holiday.
  • Provide a list of American restaurants abroad that may offer the traditional holiday meal.
  • Provide contact information for local churches and community centers in expat areas that may have gatherings for Thanksgiving and other holidays.
  • Suggest that assignees visit online forums, such as Meetup.com, to find like-minded groups of people. There may even be meetings specific to the holiday.

I did eventually find out that you can buy a whole turkey in China. We found nine grocery stores in Hong Kong alone that sell turkeys. My next mission is to find cranberry sauce in France…

UPDATE: My cousin, Brayton Holman, assures me that you can find anything you need for Thankgiving (including stuffing and cranberry sauce) at the Thanksgiving Grocery store in Paris at 20, rue Saint Paul 75004 PARIS.

Do you have any tips for families celebrating Thanksgiving abroad? We would love for you to share them below.

From everyone at XONEX Relocation, have a very happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are in the world.

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MIKE CANNING
VP, Client Services

RICK CALANNI
VP of Business Development Northeast Region

 

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