Outside of United States, I hear “Thanksgiving isn’t our holiday. It’s just another day for us”, and I completely understand. There’s no religious meaning to Thanksgiving, it’s a celebration of survival. But despite the historical significance that the Europeans finally made it through with a little help from the locals, Thanksgiving isn’t about the bird, green bean casserole, or the stuffing. Many people outside the US celebrate Thanksgiving every day, a time spent with family and friends, get-togethers over great food and sharing gossip about each other’s lives.
I remember the traditional Thanksgivings where multiple branches of the family and honorary members would crowd around the makeshift feasting table and pass each dish around, hoping there would be something leftover by the time the 8th dish reached them. There were Thanksgivings at the kiddie table, and graduation to the adult table. I spent many orphan Thanksgivings working in the theme parks were everyone would bring in a dish to share. Or friends would get together and each prepares their specialty, whether it’s guacamole, paella, or crepes. Maybe it wasn’t traditional, but they were memorable with all of us giving our input on how to cook the turkey and watching football all day.
I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving with my extended family in over 10 years. That Thanksgiving was very memorable. My parents had my uncle, aunt, and grandmother down for the holiday. I brought my two dogs, Hudson, a 1 year old lab mix and a recently adopted 6 year old collie mix, Jazz. I was very proud that the dogs kept their noses below the table and didn’t beg. My uncle commented on how well behaved both dogs were when we heard a crash in the kitchen. We all ran in to see Jazz proudly nibbling on the turkey carcass that she had pulled off the counter. Needless to say I was a little embarrassed.
For the last few years, I’ve had non-traditional Thanksgivings. My boyfriend has some weird animosity towards turkey, so we always cook something different. I’m not complaining. We had spaghetti and meatballs made with lamb and venison one time and seared tuna last year. This year we were planning on a lobster feast, but work took over our lives so we’re going with the familiar and one of our favorites, Steamed Pork Buns. There are never leftovers when we make these.
Stereotypically, Americans come home from work and zone out in front of the TV. Thanksgiving is a day for us Americans to be thankful for the people in our lives, share a meal and spend some quality time together. This is our time to really appreciate one another, our health, remember what makes us happy, and share lasting memories of dogs gone wild, kids sneezing sweet potatoes out of their noses, and wishing we had bought stock in plastic containers and Ziplock bags. Many traditions have come and gone, but the true heart of Thanksgiving is togetherness.