It’s about 5am on Thanksgiving day. I haven’t actually been home for Thanksgiving in about five years. I haven’t actually celebrated with my family in a while. Looking back on the last five years, here are my top “Away and Abroad” Thanksgivings.
Napa Friendsgiving :
My first year away from home found me at college. As many of you may have discovered, colleges expect you to leave for the whole week of Thanksgiving. With home a little too far away, I found myself at my wonderful brother’s house, hanging out with a bunch of people about 10 years older than me. It was pretty fun though. Growing up vegetarian it was the first time I ever had real Turkey for Thanksgiving. Since my brother happened to live in St. Helena, the crown jewel of Napa Valley, the food and wine were absolutely top notch. With a family member there, it felt like a great jumping off point to experience away from home.
Rich Folks Give Thanks too:
Later in my university career, I became friends, and eventually roommates with someone whose family was a bit better off than mine. So, when she invited me to Thanksgiving with “the rich part of the family,” I very quickly said yes. We drove about two hours to reach a home that looked like it belonged on a magazine cover. The house was fully decorated with very tasteful pine wreaths and gold accessories. A fire was burning away in the outside lounge area even though no one was outside.
The interior was classy while also being over the top. It looked like it was a Thanksgiving episode of “Gossip Girl.” Each place setting was fully decked out with expensive dinerware and shining cutlery, even the childrens table was esquisyt. One attendee even taught me the technique of massaging kale, because this dinner had a kale salad involved.
Even amongst all the luxury, it didn’t quite fill the void of Thanksgiving with my own family.
Thanksgiving in London:
While living in London, I ended up finding myself looking for a place to celebrate Thanksgiving. I discovered the school puts on a special dinner for the American students, and I had to see it for myself. When I arrived I was immediately submerged in what can only be described as “what Brits think Thanksgiving is.” Even though I was told it was hosted by an American expat who worked for the school, I’m not at all convinced she remembers her time in America.
The first thing I saw after walking into the room as a giant American flag hung up over where the food would soon be placed, buffet style. American flags also accompanied the place settings. The food was actually pretty good if sweet potato heavy. The weirdest part was at the end when we were expected to stay and sing “Thanksgiving Carols,” which none of the attendees knew. With a big paper due the next morning, I had to bow out and leave. A rather strange experience, but still delightful and very kind of whoever footed the bill.
Thanksgiving is an experience that is truly American. While it has a history we often like to ignore (or bring up to make your family uncomfortable, you do you.) it also is something that brings the whole country together. It doesn’t matter if you serve kale salad or way to many sweet potato-based dishes, or if your family goes with more that better suits your own traditional background, it’s a lovely American holiday that everyone can participate in. After all, if there is one thing Americans are well known for, it’s our love of food!
Have a happy and well-fed Thanksgiving!