Carrying on the American tradition of bringing our holidays and customs with us wherever we go, I helped organize a Thanksgiving dinner here in the UK. For the third year running, another American colleague and I invited our department to take part in a potluck where everyone brings a dish to celebrate giving thanks.
Modern Thanksgiving often involves having at least a long weekend off of school or work and making what could possibly be a very long trip to reach your family or friends. Some help out cooking, which often takes a good portion of the day involving quite a lot of prep work, and others spend the morning watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Then commences the eating of as much food as one could possibly fit in and going back for seconds to get the items you missed the first go round is expected. Late afternoon is reserved for naps and reclining on the sofa before ‘American football’ begins. The holiday seems to serve as a much needed break from everyday life and offers the opportunity to spend time with people that matter.
Considering Thanksgiving’s proximity to Christmas, roughly a month before, it is difficult to make the transatlantic flight home for this holiday to see family. Cost of flights alone are a deterrent but also it isn’t a holiday in the UK meaning time off isn’t automatic. The best alternative is to bring the holiday to wherever you are. In the weeks leading up to 27 November, I heard many reports of Brits attending various Thanksgiving events hosted by Americans. It appears to be a common occurrence which gives support to the idea that we have a hard time living without it.
Our Thanksgiving event saw 34 attendees, with nearly as many dishes. There were staples such as turkey, green bean casserole and sweet potato pie . A few non-traditional items like tiramisu and vegetarian curry also made welcomed appearances on the table but possibly the turkey gumbo won dish of the day. A few hours of consuming drinks and plates full of food while socializing and playing games really took the sting out of missing home. We can only hope that it meant something to those we spent our time with on the day, that we could spread a little thanks around the world wherever we go.