Wednesday, November 27, 2013

His: An Outsiders View on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the most important, if not the most important holiday on the American calendar. It is one of the few times that the stores close down (most of them do for at least part of the day) and a time where families get together to enjoy a meal together. In some ways it's like Christmas but in many ways it seems even more important than Christmas as the focus is on being together rather than the exchanging of gifts.

Thanksgiving was a holiday that I really didn't know much about when I first moved here as it is not a holiday that is celebrated in Australia or many places outside of the U.S or Canada. There really isn't a holiday that is similar to Thanksgiving in Australia.

A great meal is
the backbone of a great Thanksgiving. The menu in each American household is a little different but there are many key foods that will be on most tables on Thanksgiving. No disrespect to the ham, lamb, beef or duck but the centerpiece of the meal has to be a turkey. It doesn't matter whether it is deep fried, slow cooked or smoked, the turkey is a key part of just about every meal at Thanksgiving dinner. The side dishes that compliment the turkey often include green beans, gravy, bread rolls and some sort of potato dish. The side dishes will vary from family to family but these items, or at least some of them, are likely to be on the table. The desserts are often just as good as the main meal so you need to save room for it. Popular desserts include pumpkin pies, apple pies, and cheesecakes.

Spending time with your family is another important part of Thanksgiving. Millions of people will drive or fly great distances to be home for Thanksgiving and often go to great lengths. They may not go as far as John Candy and Steve Martin did in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" to get home, but I'm certain some people have come close. For many people this is one of the only times they get to see their families, especially if they all live far apart. For married couple who have both families nearby, it is common to have lunch with one family and then have dinner with the other. Amanda and I don't have to worry about multiple stops on Thanksgiving Day as my family is not close enough to visit without spending a few days in a plane.

Another great thing about Thanksgiving is that its one of the few times of the year that most people are off work, which allows them to travel home for the holiday  Often people get the following day off as well which allows for a 4 day weekend. Sadly not everyone gets off as first responders, nurses, etc., but often they will have a turkey and side dishes at their work so they can still enjoy a nice cooked meal.

One last tradition that many Americans love is the shopping madness that is known as "Black Friday". This is the day after Thanksgiving and is when many stores have big sales and is the unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season. There is a lot of competition on Black Friday so stores often have really good deals on big ticket, popular items to entice customers in. Black Friday draws big crowds and sadly a lot of pushing and shoving to get the deal they have lined up for. In previous years these sales started around 3am, but it has moved steadily forward and now the major players are opening around 8pm on Thanksgiving Day. A lot of people love Black Friday as they can get some great deals and they love the thrill of chasing the perfect deal, but it is definitely  not for me. I plan to be in my nice warm bed, avoiding the crowds and madness.

Even though Thanksgiving is a reasonably new holiday for me, I love it and look forward to it every year. Who wouldn't love a holiday where you get to eat, take a nap, and spend time with those you love?


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