Dear non-American friends,
You must just take my word on it when I say that Thanksgiving is the best holiday. Because it’s such an American thing, there really isn’t an equivalent holiday that I can present to you so that you’ll understand. I know you don’t get why I’m bitching about having to work today. I know you don’t understand why I’m demanding that you all come over to eat together tonight. We’re not celebrating the birth of holy babies, or anyone’s birthday, or anyone raising from the dead, or anything specific really. I’m not even going to tell you that it’s about American Indians and settlers. No, the reason Thanksgiving is awesome is exactly because it’s not really about any of that. It’s about celebrating us. Celebrating your family, your friends, all the good in your life, all the hope for the future, all the greatness that has past. It’s about being together. I know that seems very wishy-washy but just follow these simple steps and you can’t go wrong:
- Make an amazing indulgent meal where you don’t have to care about calories, or butter, or that extra piece of pie. If 10 people are coming, cook enough for 20. Go nuts. Don’t just make one dessert, make 5. Let the wine flow.
- Gather together all the people you love. And even some that you don’t. Get as many people to sit down together as you can fit in one room, and then invite a few more and pull those extra chairs out of the attic. You know that one with the wobbly leg that you never fixed. Guilt those people who live far away into coming, or let them guilt you into going to them. Horrible traffic, bad weather, none of these are valid excuses.
- Eat together and bathe in the feelings of gratitude that you have people in your life who love you, and who you love, or who maybe you don’t even like that much but who cares, because you wouldn’t be the same without them. Recognize the fact that even though it’s ridiculous that one needs an excuse such as a holiday to all get together, it is a wonderful thing that such an excuse exists because here you all are. Know that even if there is drama and fights and dry turkey and someone ate all the cranberry sauce, that is part of what makes a family, and you can be grateful for that as well.
- In short, take all the wonderful parts of Christmas and subtract being broke from too much shopping, the crappy music, horrible malls, the gifting drama, and the religious overtones. Just leave the good food, good company, and love.
Here are somethings NOT to do when interacting with your American friends on Thanksgiving:
- Tell them that having to work today is kinda like working on your birthday. No, it isn’t. It’s like having to work on Christmas.
- Say it’s just another one of those weird American holidays like Halloween. Again, no it isn’t. Halloween is kids begging candy off their neighbors, women dressing like hoes, and parties. Good fun, but not even in the same ballpark.
- Not care. If you have an American friend who is unable to be with their family for Thanksgiving, be understanding. This isn’t just another stupid day. It means something to them.
And finally a note to all my fellow Americans who can’t be in the States today, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope you can find your self surrounded by loved ones and friends if not by your family. And even if we can’t be there, we’re all sitting around that turkey back at home in spirit.
An American girl abroad for another Thanksgiving
P.S. No turkey? Chicken wings it is! (Even if I do have to pull out the tweezers to get the last of those pesky feathers.)