Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

It snowed that morning. Most of the students on campus had gone back to their home towns to celebrate Thanksgiving. There were just a few more weeks of classes before study week and after that it would be our finals. The spirit of holidays has set in even as we struggle to keep up with our assignments.

Liza & I - one Spring break in New York

I was at the foreign students office one day when I came across the invitation to celebrate Thanksgiving with a teaching staff’s family. The invitation was for foreign students who were on campus during the holidays. I must have been with my roommate, Liza, I think at that time. Eager to experience a truly American Thanksgiving celebration, very happily we signed up for the dinner.

Not long after we put our names on the notice board, the foreign student’s office called, saying that we would be having Thanksgiving dinner with the family of a History professor. Okay…that we thought was going to be an experience worth going for. A few days before Thanksgiving, the wife of the professor called, introducing herself and told us of the pick up arrangement. And that even got us more excited.

Moi & Liza

Both Liza and I thought of what we were going to wear, should we be dressed in our normal slacks and sweater or should we go looking more cultured - donning a traditional Malaysian costume. It was between baju kurung or the kebaya. In the end, we chose the kebaya. I was going to wear my kerawang kebaya and Liza was to put on one of hers.

I remember this kebaya that I had. It was beige in colour and the sarong was the long batik lepas kain. Just before I left to study in the US, my late father had taken me shopping in Singapore!! It was indeed a treat for me. I remember shopping for materials to make baju kurung and of course the kebaya piece. I got the kebaya piece from one of the shops in Arab Street together with two pieces of batik sarong and telekung. Abah being Abah, would never compromise quality for anything else. He wouldn't mind paying for the premium as good stuffs would last a life time. True enough, those bajus and kain batik that I got more than 20 years ago still look the same, even after so many wears.

It was a very cold day, that Thanksgiving day. The dreary winter weather had started to test our tolerance on the wind chill and the sub zero temperatures. It was going to be a challenge for both of us, going out in our thin kebaya when the temperature was somewhere around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. But we were so gung-ho to promote our Malaysian traditional attire, cold or no cold.

The professor picked us up at our apartment around 4pm, if I recall well. It was almost dark by then and cold too!!! The temperature had dipped even further. Imagine both of us, in a kebaya and sarong and heels. Thank god for our winter coats for keeping us warm during the ride. One thing with these Mat Sallehs, they have gotten so used to the cold, at times some of them didn’t bother having the car heater on during the early days of winter. Bila dah berkepul-kepul mulut with asap, baru lah they all on kan the car heater tu.

A typical Thanksgiving dinner spread

Our host was very friendly and homely. They had two girls who were pretty young still, and with the two of us, it was dinner for six that night. The professor told us the story of Thanksgiving and what significance it had to the American families. They served us with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, potatoes, corn, cranberries and pumpkin pie. When offered red wine to go with the turkey, we politely turned it down and settled for milk instead. Dah jadik macam kanak-kanak sihat lah pulak. Servings after servings and I could feel there wasn’t much space left in that kebaya for me. I was filled to my lungs, nasib baik the buttons of the kebaya didn’t pop. My kain sarong was so tight that I had to go to the bathroom to loosen the tali pinggang.

We had a good dinner that night but we both definitely had to work extra hard at keeping warm. Clad in just the kebaya and kain batik lepas, didn’t quite help and somewhere during desert I could see Liza shivering and so was I. Dalam hati we were saying like, tak de heater ker kat rumah prof ni. Even in our small apartment, our heater was put to max very time the temperature dipped.

Finally after the pumkin pie desert, we were ready to leave and the professor sent us back to our apartment. In the car, we could hardly speak as we were so afraid that we would stammer with our words. Burrrr…it was so cold and nasib baiklah dear prof had the heater on in the car. If not we’d surely kejung till we reach our place.

My daughter Farah wears this kebaya now. Batik lepas sarong is substituted with beaded batik skirt, putting a little modern touch to go.

We thanked our host for their hospitality and stood for a while at the front door to wave him goodbye. As soon as we saw him driving away, we quickly ran into our apartment building and stood near the hallway heater. Ahhh…it felt so good!! Baru lah dapat rasa our toes and fingers yang were almost frozen earlier.

That was some experience we had, the Thanksgiving dinner was one and the cold was the other. After that dinner, the kebaya went straight into the closet and didn’t make its appearance till the ice melted and summer warmed the land.


Just me...Naz said...

Orang cakap biar papa asal bergaya, in your case biar beku asal bergaya..hehe!

Ummi365 said...

wahh you simpan lagi baju tu.. boleh pakai lagi tak? kalau boleh, bravo!!

Muni Samad said...

Fuyo... 1. I tak tau cerita ni..
2. You still have the kebaya after all these years.. !! Wow..

reminiscing the ole days...

kay_leeda said...

Naz, was beku alright. We had to defrost ourselves once we got home.

Gaya..jangan tak gaya!! Mat Salleh pun kagum, tengok us unwrapped :)

kay_leeda said...


Yes I still have the kebaya. Nak pakai...ermmm...tak yah lah. It looks very obscene, with all the extra bulges..LOL.

kay_leeda said...


You all pi mana eh that thanksgiving? Somehow can't recall doing anything together.

Did you see Farah's kebaya last open house? That's the baju :)

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim kucing ray yg alim.

Kebaya itu sangat cantik, kata Pak Malim dgn mata yg lentik. Saya pernah pi London dulu pakai baju kebangsaan, woooooo sejuk! menggigil-gigil! kata Pak Malim dgn mata yg terjegil.

Ezza Aziz said...

akak pun ada baju kebaya siap ada kerawang kerawang lagi..tapi itu dulu punye cerita laa,sekarang baju masih ada lagi akak simpan,cuma tak leh nak pakai dah, nak masuk kan tangan pun dah tak muat...

kay_leeda said...

Wahai Pak Malim kucing ray yang alim,

Those student days boleh lah pakai kebaya coz badan belum macam papaya. These days jangan nak try-try ah, all the spare tyres are so visible ahhhh.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Ezza,

Jangan nak kata baju kebaya yang 20 tahun lepas tu, yang tahun dulu pun ader yg tak leh nak button. Senang cerita, tak buat dah kebaya. Tapi saya envy sangat some ladies yang tak conscious, 3G (Gemuk, Gempal & Gebu) pun bergaya berkebaya.

Waterlily said...

hahahhaa...i masih imagine part loosen the talipinggang tu! Sigh...sama la kita ;D Lagi haru kalau kebaya tu terbukak kancing..adeii.. happened to me once, terbukak kat perut..hahahhaa... (tak nampak kulit la tapi sebab ada kain..)

tireless mom said...


So this is the Liza yang you told me tu who works at S*o*i ye. She doesnt look like how you described her nowadays. Must be the time and position factor. Happy Thanksgiving day and hopefully the kebaya can turun ke Nissa pulak.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Kay, wow, wearing a kebaya at thanksgiving? Bet you shivered abit, huh?
Talking about snow, we now having snow...and tempe around -4'c. Abit chilly, ha ha.
You have a nice day, Lee.

Kak Teh said...

kay, you're just like me - simpan all the kebaya for our girls...its so nice to see them wearing them, kan?

I remember my first job interview here - at the BBC - pakai baju kebaya jugak - but under layers and layers of cardigans. I remember peeling them off one by one before the start of the interview. If my boss what shocked, he didnt show it. I got the job, by the way.

mamasita said...

Morning Kay,fantastic recollection of your student days.Also,pandai you simpan baju lama.Kalau daughter you pick your style,dia boleh simpan nicely for your cucu.Your Prof and his wife still around?Very nice people to layan you all sampai kena longgar tali pinggang kain.

Hai KT?Waah macam tu you dapat kerja kat BBC ye?Peel off sehelai2!Peeeewitt!

kay_leeda said...


Heh..heh...guess that's common to have buttons popping. More so when we seronok sangat menikmati juadah yg sedap-sedap kan.

Nowadays, if I'm not carefull, even the hook on the skirt will pop too...nak wat camne kan...

kay_leeda said...


Yup..that's the Lizz. Dulu lain ...sekarang lain daa. I'm contemplating if I should forward this piece to her. Yar lah...she siapa now kan...

Do you think Nissa is the kebaya type?? Nahhh...don't think so.

kay_leeda said...

Dear Uncle,

Shivered a bit?? No, Uncle. We almost became ice carvings. Ha ha..that would really make the news yah. Two Malaysian girls frozen in their national costumes!!

Gosh...come to think about it again...touch wood that didn't happen.

kay_leeda said...

Dear Kak Teh,

Sis...where have you been? Gi test A340 Air Asia ker? Heh..heh... Mana lah tau kot-kot Mr Tony dah made you the Bloggers spokesperson for AA!!!

Ahh..the peeling or stripping act, we did that all the time. Dah tu kat luar sejuk beku, masuk class tak boleh nak breath panas nyer. Mat Salleh would be the first ones to strip, yg Melayu apa lagi lah, turut sama doing the peeling/stripping act.

Ehem, the job probably not because of the peeling act kot. But I'm sure the English boss must have thought, "This lady has the potential to go far." Heh..heh..heh..

kay_leeda said...

Dear Mamasita,

The kebaya had gone into one of my "not to be opened" boxes. My girl somehow terbuka pulak box tu. Kebetulan she's into this fashion thingy. So...menjadi lah melaramkan baju Mommy yang dah dipencenkan itu.

Have not been in touched with the History Prof. At times bila teringat those student days, I'd go to UW website and check out what's going on. You know, some of these teaching staff are still around. Some have aged, yang dulu single now dah kawin. Cheh...melepas!!!

kay_leeda said...

oopss..kak teh..i meant "breathe"

rosesNtheboyz said...

salam...nice post... please visit mine n comment. thanks

MrsNordin said...

Nice story! I can almost feel like I'm shivering myself reading your story. Must be very cold indeed!