For all so many reasons Thanksgiving can be a tad awkward for Brits. However, it’s good to put aside the ernestness and uncomfortable politics, give in to eating sweet food with your mains and indulge yourself in the most wholesome bits of the nicest of American holidays.
In the US, Thanksgiving is the forth Thursday in November (or for me right now, this coming Thursday) which is taken to commemorate the harvest festival of the Pilgrims in 1621. It is generally marked by the gathering of extended family for a huge turkey meal to vaguely replicate the shared feast between those present day Massachusetts pilgrims and a tribe of Native Americans. The exact history is a little blurry but the official line will serve us well enough for now.
So yes, it’s celebrating the Anglo Saxon colonization of an already inhabited land, and, yes, a super awkward dinner party with some kindly inhabitants. Let it go for a few days. There’s so much to gain from the sentiment behind it.
Time Off From Commercialism
The most refreshing thing in the here and now is that it’s not commercial. There’s just a meal and family and that’s it. Many towns have parades, the most famous being Macy’s (ok so that’s a tiny bit commercial!) in New York City, but there’s no gifts to buy and grand decorations are not essential…my only aim is a warm and welcoming home.
Apparently there’s a lot of American Football on the television but I understand that about as much as any other sport so can’t fill you in on that at all. Sorry!
Enjoy the Slowing Down
For us, just four little Brits surrounded by huge family gatherings it could be a little lonely I guess. But I enjoy those Parties of Four, particularly this one. I like to take the chance to slow down and enjoy the family present.
Very little is open, there’s no need to go out beyond a bracing walk for some air. I cook mostly from scratch but only the dishes we like with a few extra sides that I buy the cheat’s way for me (the men folk in my life haven’t advanced to corn pudding and sweet potatoes with pecans just yet). I don’t worry about fancy brines or the most perfect pie. Just good, simple food that we can enjoy and won’t stress me out in the making.
I like cooking when there’s no urgancy. It’s a fine chance to put on some music, or the parade in the background, and potter around the kitchen while the children play in a large pile of old Lego. No hurry and nowhere to be except right there.
And if we are missing family who are thousands of miles away rest assured that the time difference gives plenty of opportunity to call. Skype and Facetime are a gift for closing up those miles.
Give Thanks and Be Content
Being typically British I do find the American declarations of thanks, enthusiasm and joy a little embarrassing as a whole. But this earnestness is truly sincere, especially at this time of year. So, while stood in my kitchen with a mug of something fine and my little family close by it really is a time to give thanks. It’s not smugness. Take stock and be grateful for what you have while the hullabaloo of normal routine is on pause.
Winter came early this year but right now I’m enjoying it. Sat here typing my thoughts and watching the snow fall to the chaotic sound of dinosaurs doing battle upstairs, I know that I’m going to enjoy indulging in a little thanks giving this week before the chaos and delights of the winter holiday seasons starts right after.