A Japanese kitchen in Osaka (courtesy damiengabrielson at Flickr CC)If you’re a US expat, the Thanksgiving holiday can be one of those times when you’ll go to extraordinary lengths to get a taste of home.

After living in Bahrain, Japan and the Netherlands, I have vivid memories of the “turkey trot” – US expats running around trying to find an oven that could handle a standard-sized turkey.

Admittedly, as military personnel we had access to base commissaries that carried turkeys and other American exotica like sweet potatoes, canned pumpkin and those French onion crunchy things you sprinkle on green bean casseroles.  The battle wasn’t won, though, until you found an oven that was big enough to actually cook the holiday bird.

If you’ve never been an expat, you have no idea how enormous and powerful the average American refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer are compared to their often diminutive and underpowered overseas counterparts.

Just try drying two or three pair of blue jeans at once in many Japanese or European clothes dryers, for example – you’ll feel as though you’re waiting for DAYS for them to un-soggify.

So, at Thanksgiving, if you can lay hands on a turkey, you must plot where to cook it.

Those servicemembers who live on US overseas bases often have coveted US-sized appliances in military housing. To help with the cooking challenge, many generous on-base spouses arrange sign-up sheets and schedules each Thanksgiving so that off-base families can get in there and jam their turkeys into an oven that can handle it.

Here’s how it works….

“OK, Sue, you can cook in my oven from 8-10 am. Frank, you’re in there from 8:15-10:15. Maria, be ready to go 10:30-12:30….” and so on.

It’s a little thing, to have some familiar holiday foods once a year, but it means a lot when far from home.

I never thought I’d be so thankful for something as simple as an oven.

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I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. NHRA drag racing fan. Co-founder of Tourism Currents. U.S. Navy veteran. Caffeinated.