How to make it in America: Week 10

Putting aside the frankly horrible history behind Thanksgiving, it is a really cute little holiday.

I have never celebrated Thanksgiving, (mainly as I have absolutely no reason to) so I was pretty excited to see what it was like. I was also utterly overjoyed to have the chance to escape the University of Rhode Island for around 24 hours. I seriously think cabin fever would have set in if I had stayed on campus for much longer.

While I have never celebrated Thanksgiving, when an extended family congregates in one house for a big meal, a number of events are always going to be the same no matter what the occasion is, what culture you are from or where you are.

The cooking of the meal will start later than planned, causing stress from the outset.  There will be numerous opinions on how the potatoes should be made, but in the end it will come down to a dictatorship of the cook echoing variations of the slogan, “I’m the one cooking the meal.”

One family member (usually young, usually male), will successfully navigate the entire day without helping to prepare the food in any way. Someone (usually the same young, male relative), will also ask when the food will be ready at various intervals. This will be met with tense replies of “soon” as the sound of the usual festive television shows mummer in the background.

Once the food is served, you will be held off for another excruciating minute by the social media lovers who will take numerous photos so they can boast about the food they didn’t help make on Instagram and Twitter. Despite all of this, a magical sense of fulfilment reaches everyone as they take the first bite of the perfectly crafted meal, congratulating yourselves that yet another holiday has been successfully navigated.

The food was amazing. No exaggeration. Absolutely nothing beats the wonder that is home cooking. For me, it was the desert which topped my Thanksgiving experience. Apple Pie. Mmm. If heaven was a piece of food, that would be it. The same goes for pumpkin bread. Before coming here I don’t think I had ever tried anything with pumpkin in it. In America it’s like a religion that rears its head every fall, and I am slowly becoming one of its most devoted followers.

I was also introduced to the genius that is Charlie Brown. He is such a sweetheart. There is something special about festive TV, and I think Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving really typifies it. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a kids programme which creates a sense of nostalgia when you watch it, making you remember when you were younger and the holidays had a slightly different appeal.

Throughout Thanksgiving, my hosts were forever asking if I wanted to Skype my parents. I would say “no, it’s fine, I can ring them when I get back”, to which they would reply, “but its Thanksgiving.” I really couldn’t understand why they were so insistent, and to be honest if I rang my parents saying Happy Thanksgiving they might disown me, thinking I’ve been Americanised and therefore lost to them forever. For me, Christmas is the family holiday I could never miss, but here it’s Thanksgiving.

It might get swallowed up in the stress of cooking, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the horrible materialism of Black Friday (yes I did go, but only as I needed a suitcase and Christmas presents…for myself) but what I liked most about Thanksgiving is celebrating the importance of your family. This might get expressed by your relatives through untactful and quite frankly panic inducing questions of where your life if going, but they only ask because they care.

What am I thankful for? My family who I cannot wait see once I get home in a few weeks, but I am also thankful for the ‘family’ I have made here which has made this an experience I don’t ever want to forget.