An Englishman’s Thanksgiving

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. As an Englishman the concept of celebrating Thanksgiving is new to me.

This was my second Thanksgiving in America so I was very excited about it. My first was in 2011, I had recently moved to America and a friend of mine invited me to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with her family. I excitedly accepted the offer.

It was a curious experience for me. My friend lived in this beautiful suburban home with a well-kept lawn and neatly trimmed hedges. The rest of the estate was lined with rows of houses with a similar dollhouse design. I was nervous about spending a holiday with a family I had never met but they were wonderfully accommodating and cordial throughout the week. It was like I stepped into every single American movie I have ever seen. The mother spent the day cooking pumpkin pies in the kitchen. The father came home and actually said the words ‘Honey, I’m home!’. Upon the fathers arrival, the giddy golden retriever preceded to jump on him and lick his face. The two daughters (one a high-school cheerleader and the other a bookish college girl) just laughed and shook their heads at the mischievous dog. And the jock son sat on the couch watching American football. It was like I stepped into a cliche – and I loved it! I’ve since spent a lot of time in the United States but this experience was the first time I really understood how magical and alluring American life can be. I felt very warm and safe.

Three years later, and the novelty of America has worn off slightly (although I still feel like I am constantly walking around a movie set). This year I spent Thanksgiving in Atlanta with some loved ones. We laughed a lot. We ate a lot. We drank a lot. I think Thanksgiving is my favourite American holiday. Mainly because it is one of the only American holidays that is largely unsullied by commercialisation. No pressure to buy presents, no decorations, and no cards. Just a day of year that revolves around eating food till you pass out with your nearest and dearest. What is not to like?

I think it would serve well in British culture. Speaking as a Brit, it is very difficult for us to reflect on life and get emotional as easy as our American cousins do. And whenever we do it is often masked behind irony and humour. I think having a formal, official day of the year where everyone agrees it is okay to be openly and sincerely thankful would do us good as a nation. However most British people I know would be thankful never to be put in any situation where emotions are involved. Maybe one day.

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving last week!

A photo taken just before Thanksgiving on a lovely fall hike in North Georgia.

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