What are Chinese people thankful for this year?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you weren’t hoping for a hard news story today.

In a very unscientific poll, I asked my students (doctors) what they were thankful for this year. At some point during their “toast,” roughly 30% mentioned their health, 90% mentioned their family, and about 20% mentioned their co-workers.

Here is a somewhat random sample:

  • I am thankful for my parents, they gave me some money this year to buy a car. Now I don’t have to be cold going to work, so I am thankful for that.
  • I am very thankful to my parents-in-law, this year they gave my husband and I a lot of money to buy an apartment. Now we all live together, and they help us to raise our daughter. My husband and I are both doctors, so we don’t get to spend much time with her, but we are thankful that her grandparents can. (Thanking parents for helping raise children was the most frequently mentioned topic).
  • I am thankful for parents, who came all the way from my hometown to visit me here. They brought many local foods, and vegetables they grew in their own garden. It was all very delicious, and made me feel loved. I am very thankful for them.
  • I am thankful for my parents, who have supported me in my choice to become a doctor. Many of my friends’ parents told them what job to chose, but mine let me decide on my own. I am very thankful for that.
  • I am very thankful for my wife. She loves me, and that makes me happy. She has also done a lot of housework, and has done a good job raising our daughter. I am very thankful for her.
  • I am very thankful this year for my baby girl. My wife and I had been trying for five years to have a child. She had two miscarriages before, and we thought it wasn’t possible for us. This year though, we were successful, and I am very thankful for that.
  • I am thankful for my co-workers. Earlier this year my brother was diagnosed with colon cancer, and died shortly after that. My co-workers showed me a lot of love, and helped me do my job while I took time off to help my parents. It was a hard year, but I am very thankful for my co-workers.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you take time to tell the people you love what a wonderful blessing they are in your lives.


If you’re still looking for more news to be optimistic about, Foreign Policy has a great list of things to be thankful for this year.

29 responses to “What are Chinese people thankful for this year?”

  1. I personally find it somewhat bemusing to hear our Chinese cousins over the border being thankful for anything (as embodied in the idea of Thanksgiving Day), but maybe that’s just me.

    Have a good Thanksgiving Day (and also Thanksreceiving Day).

    • Lorin Yochim says:

      In my ignorance, I have no idea what thenakedlistener finds “bemusing” about this post. It’s one of your best, Tom. And Happy Thanksgiving to my American neighbours.

  2. Meryl Mackay aka 马美丽 says:

    Yes, I echo that – a very good Thanksgiving Day to you and yours Tom! This time last year I was hosting a dinner for my BJ friends before flying back to UK the next day. They were all very excited about “Thanksgiving” and asked me and fellow Scot Aslistair how we celebrated it! Ali gave me a knowing look – he’s been 10 years in BJ and is fed up explaining that it is only Americans who hold this festival. But what is worse, my sister has lived 30 years in USA and is REALLY fed up being asked by Americans how we celebrate Thanksgiving in England!

    • Oh, how the world has changed – Americans asking Brits about Thanksgiving!

    • David says:

      Hello 马美丽,
      Greetings from Beijing. Just to let you know we also celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada, although we celebrate it on the second Monday in October.

      David 费德威,

      • Meryl Mackay aka 马美丽 says:

        David: Hi! Many thanks for that info. I did not realise that Thanksgiving was celebrated in October in Canada. Is it the turkey, like in USA? My sister can’t cope with all that turkey just one month before Christmas. She’d love an October Thanksgiving!

      • David says:

        Hi Meryl,
        Thanks for your reply. Why our Thanksgiving is a month earlier than yours is a mystery. Since we Canadians are usually such followers of whatever the United states does, perhaps we decided to be one step ahead of you in this holiday. hahaha!
        Regards, and hope you had a pleasant and warm Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends.

      • Tom says:

        I heard that in Canada there is football and turkey too, but that it you guys only get a 3 day weekend. But if Thanksgiving is in October, how do you know when to prepare for Christmas? 🙂

        Thanksgiving has really come to be one of my favorite holidays in China, even though it is awfully hard to be away from family like this.

      • Lorin Yochim says:

        There’s probably some deep existential link between 3 down football and 3 day weekends, Tom. I’d also speculate that this somehow explains lining up 20 minutes for coffee at a Tim Horton’s drive through when the McDonald’s drive through is empty.

        For a Canadian Thanksgiving primer, look to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_(Canada)) which is never, ever wrong.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This was a really great article—made me smile 🙂 Only downside—is there a way to block “thenakedlistener” comments??? They are very immature and downright irritating.

    • Meryl Mackay aka 马美丽 says:

      Anonymous: Perhaps you’d like Lorin Yochim to grade thenakedlistener’s comments!!! Many people enjoy Thanksgiving without being aware of the history behind it.and that is what I understood by tnl’s comments. But I am sure that Tom has enabled his students to take a wider view if they did not already possess it.

  4. Chopstik says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans! And Happy Thursday to everyone else! 😉

    Oh, by the way, Tom, maybe it’s just me and anyone can tell you math isn’t really much subject. But I grabbed a calculator and determined that 30% + 90% + 20% = 140%. You must an awful lot of co-workers! 🙂

  5. Marvin Eckfeldt says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Lynnea and Tom! Thanks sharing the thoughts of some of your students. We do have much to be thankful and grateful for. I so appreciate the work both of you are doing through Global Ministries. Tom, your blog is a daily read by many of us here in the Northwest Region. Proud of the outreach you are doing and your effectiveness. Take good care.

  6. Some commenters need to relax about my comments here.

  7. Pete Nelson says:


    Let me add my Happy Thanksgiving to you also, though it has come and gone for you by now. We just finished eating too much with my wife’s family, and having a nice family visit. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and actually, one of my Chinese friends that lives in Shenzhen said that she loves it too! I kinda doubt her family is eating turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie to celebrate though. 🙂 I think it’s great that you are talking about the Thanksgiving holiday with your colleagues – the idea of being grateful for the good things that come to us is an important one, I think.

  8. Meryl Mackay aka 马美丽 says:

    My Scottish husband corrects me and says that he remembers Thanksgiving at church when he was a child. It was at the end of September and gave thanks for the harvest. I grew up in England and remember it as Harvest Festival – same thing, differently named religious ceremony. Now, about Black Friday – no we don’t have it in UK – yet! But BBC TV mentioned it this morning, so maybe it will come here eventually!

    • Chopstik says:

      At the risk of sounding like both an idiot and a jerk (well, ok, not a stretch in my case, I suppose), Thanksgiving (at least as I understand it) is not a religious holiday in the US. How it may/may not relate to Harvest Festival is for someone with more knowledge than I.

      • Meryl Mackay aka 马美丽 says:

        Yes, good point Mr Kuaizi but for many people Christmas is not a religious festival either! And I presume that Thanksgiving originally was religiously celebrated in America.

      • Tom says:

        Thanksgiving Feasts were originally sanctioned by The Church after wars or to mark the end of a drought or something like that. The “first” Thanksgiving (as told in history books) was a religious festival, but it became a state holiday with Lincoln.

  9. Meryl Mackay aka 马美丽 says:

    Thank you for your explanation Tom. My knowledge of Thanksgiving is limited to the history books!

  10. Yaxue C. says:

    Listen to the talks: The holiday dinner table turns out to be here! Where have I been? Totally missed it!

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