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When Thanksgiving and its customs are foreign to you

I love spending time and have dinner with friends, but Thanksgiving is not a holiday I grew up with. I did grew up with three days of Christmas so maybe that counts for Thanksgiving :-)

I wonder if there are any others here who don't connect with Thanksgiving and its spirit. And if this is the case, what do you do when everyone around you gets into the madness of Thanksgiving? Also Any tips where to hang out and not be dragged into this Thanksgiving celebration???

And this is not to diss those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, I fully respect this and you! I just want to do something else !

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    1. I get what you're saying... But I do enjoy celebrating holidays that are not mine. I didn't grow up with Christmas, but I love joining my friend's celebrations. Thanksgiving in my family isn't madness. Perhaps you can find a friend who has a nice simple "Thankful" Thanksgiving and enjoy that.

      Or create your own tradition. Maybe its a day you try a new recipe. Or an internet free day. Or a day you watch movies you always meant to see, but never did. Or invite a bunch of other people who don't do Thanksgiving over and have them each bring a dish from their childhood.

      It's not that hard to figure out how to spend a day.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Jennalynn

        am i crazy or is the american kennel club dog show live at madison square garden on t'giving? or maybe it's just broadcast on tv that day? maybe attending that event would be a good alternative; or attending the t'giving day parade which really has nothing to do w/t'giving and then volunteering at a soup kitchen which should be a relevant activity any day of the year? trinity lutheran church on the lower east side has a great ministry for this! trinitylowereastside.org

        1. re: betsydiver

          No, that's not live. MSG has no events scheduled on TG.

          1. re: Karl S

            The dog show actually takes place outside Philadelphia the weekend before and is televised on Thanksgiving.

        2. re: Jennalynn

          Hm-m, I am not Catholic, but my wife's family has a big celebration for St. Joseph's Day, with the alter, etc.. That has never bothered me. It has been fun, and I have enjoyed the family, and their celebration.

          I feel that too many get hung up on others' celebrations. We have celebrated Hanukkah-mas for many years (decades, actually), and no one has been the worse for the wear. It just happens.

          Celebrations can be great, whether one can relate directly, or not.


        3. "Any tips where to hang out and not be dragged into this Thanksgiving celebration???"

          Don't marry someone who is attached to this rather deep-seated American custom. Because your lack of attachment to it will not be given a great deal of deference by the in-laws. If you are lucky, it will be humored at best.

          Put it this way, imagine the shoes were on the other foot and you were in a culture that did not celebrate Christmas much.

          If you can find a Chinese restaurant that is open (more common on Christmas than Thanksgiving), hang out there.Thanksgiving is a rare holiday left where things really do shut down in the USA other than the restaurant and hospitality/travel-related trades. As such, it's a great day to go for a drive and see things (outside - obviously, more places are closed indoors) that are ordinarily mobbed. (I do this, btw, on Independence Day when I am not with friends or family.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Karl S

            It used to be that Thanksgiving was a day where things shut down, but not as much as they used to. Kmart chose to be open on Thanksgiving a few years ago and many others are open on Thanksgiving now as well. Even most of the Chinese restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve in the Twin Cities.

          2. I identify with this OP. I am English so didn't grow up with this tradition either. In Britain turkey is for Christmas so it seems rather strange to eat it 4 weeks before Christmas. Although my first husband was American and we lived in London my MIL used to make T-giving but it still doesn't mean much if anything to me.

            However, I do like the cross cultural aspect of this holiday and the spirit in which it's meant.

            1. If you don't want to have the traditional meal with friends/family, then skip it. You can start your Christmas shopping at WalMart, KMart, etc.

              If you don't want to deal with people , then just stay home. Go for it.

              1. Do what non-Christians do on Christmas day: take in a movie and have dinner in Chinatown. It's a tradition unto itself.

                1 Reply
                1. re: gaffk

                  I'm agnostic and I volunteer at the free meal program on Xmas so others can enjoy the holiday that I prefer not to celebrate.

                2. Um, stay home? It's one day, surely you can manage to entertain yourself for the duration,

                  1. i don't understand the thinly veiled hostile tone of some of these replies.... the OP asked a legitimate question and said he/she meant no disrespect. lighten up, people.

                    to the OP - last year we lost our mom 3 weeks before thxgiving and so none of us were in the mood to celebrate. i took my dad to the Fisherman's Wharf area, and then to North Beach (obviously, we're in San Francisco) - so we did touristy things, outside, and then ate at an Italian restaurant. One year later, we're really still not in the mood to celebrate - the holidays will probably never be the same, and it does feel strange to be not in the same space as everyone else around you - so we'll probably do something like that again. Touristy areas will be open, so if you have anything like that near you.... Or find others like you and arrange a potluck that has NO thxgiving day dishes! enjoy your day!

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      I think it's a response to "the madness of Thanksgiving" and "not be dragged into" that triggers the sharp tones-- even though the OP says that it's "not to diss those who [celebrate]", the other two phrases imply that the OP thinks that the whole thing is overhyped and rather senseless.

                      I'd suggest maybe taking the opportunity to learn more about it -- if you understand it better, you might at least appreciate why it's important, even if you never celebrate it yourself.

                      I agree with the other recommendations to stay home or head out somewhere -- how about a weekend away? You'll probably have 4 days off anyway - you can't avoid Thanksgiving completely unless you leave the US, but it would minimize it.

                      How about volunteering? Soup kitchens and such are notoriously short-staffed on big holidays as people choose to be with their friends and families on big holidays. It might even give you enough perspective that you'd find yourself thankful for the opportunity to live in a foreign culture.

                      I'm on the other side of the coin -- I'm living in a culture that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, and it's the most difficult holiday of the year for us -- everyone here celebrates Christmas and New Year's and Easter (and even Halloween and Valentine's Day, though in a decidedly more reserved manner) -- so those holidays are pretty easy to deal with.

                      Thanksgiving, however, we feel very alienated to have a holiday -- an important one at that -- and no one even knows what it is in most cases. We're at work and school when our loved ones are gathering for a holiday that's so important to our culture, and I can count on homesickness rearing its head that day -- so we have a celebration with our friends here for whom the holiday is important.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        "I think it's a response to "the madness of Thanksgiving" and "not be dragged into" that triggers the sharp tones-- even though the OP says that it's "not to diss those who [celebrate]", the other two phrases imply that the OP thinks that the whole thing is overhyped and rather senseless."


                      2. re: mariacarmen

                        You may be confusing stating the obvious with hostility.

                        1. re: mariacarmen

                          I'm not sure if you are including me in your " hostile" scolding, but truly, I've never understood the need to find something to "do" on a holiday if you don't partake in such holiday. Plan ahead for most places being closed and do whatever you want. The need for a special, alternate holiday plan strikes me as kind if odd.

                          1. re: LeoLioness

                            This is true.

                            What does a person do on any other day that they're not celebrating Thanksgiving? Go hiking. Read a good book. Watch old movies. Catch up on honey-do-s. Write letters to your non-Americand friends and family telling them how over the top American Thanksgiving is. Give the dog a bath. Wash your car. Clean out a closet. Pursue a hobby. Bake some bread. Bake all the brownie recipes you've been collecting and make a taste comparison. Write a blog entry about it.

                            1. re: rainey

                              I really love the brownie idea!

                          2. re: mariacarmen

                            Since Thanksgiving is one of the rare holidays that is non-denominational makes it the perfect holiday for anyone, of any nationality, religion or non, background etc. to celebrate. For once we have a holiday that doesn't require the purchase of gifts or candy or flowers.

                            Thanksgiving allows everyone to reflect on "Thanks" in their own way, incorporating their own cultures and customs. The only uniting factor is you get together with those you love, give thanks and eat. And except for the parade, not horribly commercialized. (The parade is personal favorite, but I understand it's not for everyone).

                            I don't find it fraught with madness or something to be dragged to. I find it warm and endearing. And it welcomes all with open arms.

                            So if the OP doesn't want to join a communal celebration, perhaps take the day for quiet reflection on what they have gratitude for.

                            Either that or go to a movie.

                            1. re: Jennalynn

                              Agreed with you about it being the rare holiday that does not involve madness. Focus is on food and family - what a great combination.

                              1. re: Cachetes

                                Except when your family = madness.

                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                  Well, it HAS been said that one can "pick their ____, but not their family."

                                  For me, too many family celebrations were sort of like a "National Lampoon, Christmas Vacation," so having calm family, plus a mood of reverence, would have been great. Giving "thanks," would have counted 10x, but it seldom did.


                          3. I sympathize as I'm in the same situation and feel the same way. I don't celebrate Christmas either but at least find the trappings of Christmas (carols, lights, fruit cake) more interesting.

                            This year I'm traveling out of the US. Otherwise I treat it as a couple of days off: stock up on DVDs or books, eat out at ethnic restaurants that are too crowded on other days, take advantage of sales on baking products to stock up.

                            1. Off point, I thought from noting your user name (7daysinparis), you might get a kick out of the following article by Art Buchwald, explaining Thanksgiving to the French:

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: boredough

                                It's just a big family meal, Americans used to do that all the time. It was called Sunday dinner.

                                1. re: SteveRB

                                  Ouch. The element of truth is there...but really? Sunday dinner wasn't about feasting and giving thanks in a global sense. And for modern Americans, you're talking apples and oranges. Even if you have a point.

                                2. re: boredough

                                  Merci beaucoup; Dank je wel, Hopi great Danki, Vielen Dank for sharing the link and article; it's very much appreciated!

                                3. If you're feeling it's "madness", and "getting dragged in", I respectfully suggest you try a Thanksgiving with other people. For some families, Thanksgiving is a very stressful time. My solution was to establish a new tradition, where I don't have Thanksgiving with my extended family. Turns out, Thanksgiving can be a fun, relaxing day, with traditional food, and - wait for it - fun!
                                  I like the suggestion of volunteering, serving Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate than you. The gratitude on their faces and the camaraderie you will experience will show you what Thanksgiving can be about.

                                  1. T-giving has not ever been my favorite day. I don't like the food, I give thanks all year and it is around my b-day so as I child I felt cheated (silly but.....). That stopped years ago when we started going out for T-giving. DH has the traditional as well as anyone else with us and I will, this year, have a nice juicy steak, etc. As everyone says - find something else to do! This year we will be cruising over Christmas so that will be fun! Maybe you should try that!

                                    1. Surely your culture has feast days of some sort? For people in the US, that's what T-day is. You don't have to celebrate it (unless you are married/partnered to someone who does), and you can certainly let it pass unnoticed. Just politely refuse invitations to eat at other people's house. I'm assuming you posted because friends were pressuring you to come to their celebration, but it's perfectly okay to say that you have made other plans.

                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: Isolda

                                        Growing up Jewish, I did not observe Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter. It was a bit frustrating when stores and restaurants are closed, but we did our own family activities, such as take drives, watching movies, baking and going to the restaurants that were open, ie. Chinese or other Asian cultures.

                                        Now that I am married to a nominally Christian man, we have Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant, Easter brunch in a restaurant, and Christmas eve and day at home with family and cooked meals. It's nice to be able to share these holidays with family, but I have to admit that a little part of me misses the annual Chinese Christmas Eve or Day meals. I'd love to eschew the gifts and heavy meals for a day of movies and taking on ambitious cooking projects. That has now been moved to New Year's Day and the few days between Christmas and New Year's, when my husband and I often day a few days off.

                                        When you're not in the majority, national and secular holidays can be a little isolating, but it's all in how you approach those days. Crafty projects and feeding people at soup kitchens is a lovely way to pass a day that doesn't have much sentimental meaning. I now look forward to days when regular grocery stores and restaurants are closed, because it means visiting shops and eating in restaurants owned by muslims, hindus, buddhists, shintoists, taoists, Greek or eastern orthodox, etc. For me, it's an opportunity, not an imposition.

                                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                                          I'm confused by the "I'm Jewish, I don't observe Thanksgiving" thing. Thanksgiving is most definitely NOT a religious holiday (although you can give thanks to whomever you feel like). I am also Jewish, and spent every Thanksgiving of my childhood celebrating it at the home of my very observant Jewish grandparents. I don't see the conflict there.

                                          As for the OP's question, I am also a bit confused by the "madness of Thanksgiving" snark. Seriously? Are all stores decorated for Thanksgiving, playing endless loops of Thanksgiving music? Are you forced to buy gifts for people? Do people wear Thanksgiving-themed clothing to work? What madness are you referring to, beyond the fact that turkey is on sale at the supermarket? I don't think it's a big deal to walk past displays of canned pumpkin and fresh cranberries, which is pretty much the only evidence that the holiday exists.

                                          In any case, why not just celebrate the holiday in the spirit in which it was intended--that is, giving thanks for the good things in your life? That's not a particularly American/patriotic sentiment, nor is it a religious one. It is simply a day off to get together with either friends or family. Really, Thanksgiving is one of the most innocuous holidays I can possibly think of. I'm finding it hard to imagine getting so offended by it.

                                          Barring that, do what you want but don't expect to go out for Chinese. Thanksgiving is generally the only day of the year that many Chinese restaurants close down.

                                          1. re: travelmad478

                                            What I meant by the fact that I'm Jewish is that we have a pastoral holiday during which we celebrate the fruits of the harvest: Sukkot. I am also Canadian and the Canadian Thanksgiving falls during the same general time frame. We NEVER celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving in any way, shape or form. I understand that American Jews may celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving, but I wouldn't be surprised if some did not.

                                            I guess many immigrants to the U.S. have chosen to assimilate more than in Canada. Where I have lived during my life (3 different Canadian cities), Chinese restaurants are open on all major holidays, religious or otherwise. Restaurants from other cultures and religions either close during their own holidays or stay open, but offer special dishes and/or meals that reflect their traditions.

                                            I apologize to American Jews that do observe the US Thanksgiving. I should not have assumed that your Thanksgiving and Sukkot were mutually exclusive. I will say, however, that no Jews I knew growing up in Toronto celebrated Thanksgiving on the first Monday in October, even though most of us had the day off of school and work.

                                            1. re: 1sweetpea

                                              Most American Jews that I know do celebrate Thanksgiving. And many here also go to Chinese restaurants on Christmas. One difference is that our Thanksgiving truly IS an American holiday, and not a religious one. And you might be correct about the Canadian Thanksgiving (which I is in early October if I recall correctly) being closer in timing to Sukkot. However, I have also noted that at least my Canadian friends (and I have several close ones) do not consider their Thanksgiving as major a holiday as we consider ours. Yes, they will have a celebratory dinner, and yes, it often includes Turkey and there is a day off. But my friends, although close to their families, usually don't travel to celebrate the day together. For example, I have a good (non-Jewish) friend in Vancouver, and although she is close to her mother and sisters I have never known her to go to Winnepeg to be with them for the Canadian Thanksgiving, and although they do visit her in Vancouver from time to time she has never mentioned them coming for that particular holiday (and yes, the family's financial situation is such that they could certainly afford to travel any time they chose to do so...). The fact that we always have a four-day weekend may make travel more attractive; I seem to remember that the Canadian Thanksgiving is often on a Monday. All I know is that its a big enough deal here that my son seriously considered flying 2000 miles to be with us for 24 hours before work obligations would require him to return...and only decided against the idea when 1) he realized the ticket price was not compatible with a student's budget and 2) his new girlfriend decided that she too would not travel home and they could celebrate the day AND the convenient fact that it is also her birthday together....

                                              We will miss him, but still will have a large crowd (all the sisters and my father, plus assorted children and grandchildren and maybe a friend or two). And yes, some of us are Jewish (and some are Muslim, and some Hindu.....).

                                              1. re: janetofreno

                                                Oh, and a PS to the OP: keep in mind that the "madness of Thanksgiving" may seem magnified by the fact that you are on Chowhound. There are plenty of Americans who celebrate the day with a dinner in a restaurant (but admittedly will try and be with family and usually want the traditional menu there). However, Hounds get more excited about Thanksgiving than almost any other holiday. They post for weeks before about potential recipes, and talk over the successss and failures for weeks afterwards.... And when you think about it that makes sense....after all, its the one holiday where the major point of the day is to have a big meal...and who loves a big meal more than Chowhounds? :-)

                                                1. re: janetofreno

                                                  I was going to say...I think Thanksgiving is *the* National Holiday for a lot of Chowhounds! :-)

                                                2. re: janetofreno

                                                  As a Canadian looking at the US. I most definitely agree that US Thanksgiving seems to be a far bigger deal than Canadian Thanksgiving. We have the turkey dinner with family, and all the stores are closed, but that's it. I don't know anyone who makes a huge deal out of it.

                                                  1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                    "... and all the stores are closed... :" should be important, but in the US, it is FAR from the truth. This year, 2011, some retailers are actually doing sales ON Thanksgiving Thursday - "Black Thursday?"

                                                    I rather hate that, but it's just me.Though an avowed capitalist, this is getting too much, even for me. One of my local Costco (membership, big-box retailers) had put out Christmas fare, in early September! Have they no shame?


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      It's not just you. It definitely bothers me too. I don't think there is a single holiday in the U.S. that is too sacred for retail stores to be open. Even on Christmas, more and more places are open for at least limited hours. What bothers me the most about this is the poor folks that work at some of our country's lowest paying jobs don't get to spend these days with family. When I was a kid all the "main street shops" were closed on Wednesday so that they could be open on Saturday and still have 2 days off a week.

                                                      1. re: centralpadiner

                                                        I'm in agreement. Don't like the store being open on Thanksgiving. As a kid you new this was special day because everything was closed.

                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        I've already heard Christmas music at the mall. Just too much, too soon. I love it that Nordstrom waits until after Thanksgiving before decorating for Christmas.

                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                          There appears to be a bit of backlash against the Black Friday creep - store employees are upset they will have to cut their holiday short to prep the store, and shoppers are upset they will have to cut dinner short to get in line for the best deals. I have a feeling the store will back off of the midnight openings next year, and will return to 5am Friday.

                                                        2. re: CanadaGirl

                                                          As an ex-pat American living in Canada for the last 18 years, I can absolutely say that U.S. Thanksgiving is a far, far bigger deal than Canadian Thanksgiving. I happen to work for a U.S. company and get the U.S. holidays, so I always celebrate both Thanksgivings. We have a small celebration for Canadian Thanksgiving, but then have a huge blowout dinner party for U.S. Thanksgiving in Toronto. It's rather sad that I look at Canadian Thanksgiving as my chance to get a turkey carcass to make stock and gravy in advance for U.S. Thanksgiving... :)

                                                      3. re: 1sweetpea

                                                        Jewish Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving.

                                                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                          Thanks 1sweetpea... I always kind of wondered about this; in my (admittedly limited) experience, American Jews will staunchly defend Thanksgiving as the one holiday everyone celebrates, while Canadian Jews will often say they do not celebrate (and often seem to lump it in with Christmas, Easter, etc, which doesn't see quite fair). But the Sukkot explanation makes sense.
                                                          It is true in general that Canadian Thanksgiving is not such a big deal as American Thanksgiving, even for non-Jews.

                                                  2. It's about setting aside a day to give thanks... a harvest meal. I don't understand the "madness of Thanksgiving."
                                                    It's about sharing a meal and time with friends and family.
                                                    If you don't want to be "dragged" into it, then don't. Stay home. and I fully respect that decision. I'm assuming you are an adult. Do what you want.
                                                    Do you get the day off? If so, enjoy it.

                                                    1. I understand that Thanksgiving is not a familiar holiday for you to celebrate. But when you say you love spending time and having dinner with friends, but you don't want to spend time and have dinner with friends at Thanksgiving, I am puzzled.

                                                      1. Whether one is brought up with the last thursday in November as a holiday or not, what's difficult about connecting with the spirit of feasting and being grateful? Particularly for a 'hound. One need not embrace the traditions, but, sh*t it's a day off - enjoy it in whatever way pleases you and appreciate that.

                                                        1. What's the big deal? It's one day. Unlike other holidays, there really aren't weeks of preparation and anticipation, for the most part, unless you're hosting a huge get-together.. There are no gifts to buy, no shopping for party dresses required, no tv specials (well, maybe a few) running for weeks on end, no special music in stores, no cards to send. It's just a huge harvest meal shared with family and friends. And the Macy's parade and football, of course. If you're not feeling a connection with the holiday, no biggie. If you live in a city with a Chinatown, have dinner there and go to a movie. Or stay home, enjoy your day off from work, watch dvds, get a jump-start on your Christmas/Hanukah gift-buying online, read a book, cook something special, take a nap so you can head to the mall for midnight Black Friday shopping, etc. The list is endless. Or if someone invites you to dinner, enjoy it in the spirit of a lovely meal spent with friends. And if you're still feeling out of sorts, remember, it's one day. You'll survive. I do understand that if you're far from home, away from your own family, friends and culture, that something like Thanksgiving might serve to make you feel alone and out of it. But there are many ways to adapt without donning a pilgrim hat and roasting a turkey.

                                                          1. I'm unclear about what the "madness of Thanksgiving" is. It's just a large seasonal meal, isn't it? Where you might invite friends and family to share? In my experience, there isn't any religion involved, just families gathering and eating. There is occasionally a nod towards the pilgrims or expressions of general thanks for our good fortunes, but that's harmless, isn't it? I don't see what's not to like...

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                              What I consider madness is that it seems ( and this is my observation only) that my friends are stressed to get the shopping done in time, some had fight over the last Turkey or couldn't find a turkey of their liking. I haven't seen a lot of families that embraces the spiritual part of this observation. Again reading the responses there are plenty who are celebrating and say thanks.

                                                              It is great to have a holiday where you give and say thanks though! Our Christmas doesn't involve Turkey not even the traditional Christmas celebrations. As an expat I lived in several countries during Christmas. but the commercialization and stress of Thanksgiving that goes with having a family meal is what I consider madness.

                                                              I've been fortunate enough to have lived in countries where as I had a lot of vacation days and holidays. And here I can b/c take off when ever I want due to the type of position and organization I work for thus one extra day or more is just one day extra day ( this to the ones who responded it is an extra day enjoy it) for me although I will say thanks on Thanksgiving for all the blessings I have received and the blessings I was able to provide to others. That thought I do like to embrace from Thanksgiving!

                                                              Thanks again everyone for responding.

                                                              1. re: 7daysinparis

                                                                '...commercialization of Thanksgiving...'? I can uinderstand stress in preparing a big Thanksgiving meal if someone is doing it all by themselves, but what commercialization?

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  I agree...any commercialization attached to Thanksgiving seems to be more about "Black Friday", which is actually about Christmas.

                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                    I can't imagine how awful Christmas must be for the OP if s/he is so horrified by the 'commercialization" of Thanskgiving!

                                                                    1. re: travelmad478

                                                                      Mind you, I don't think 7days grew up in the USA (he/she has already said that TG is not something he/she grew up with) and probably experienced Christmas during his/her formative years in many countries other than (just?) the USA and has already said he/she has lived in many countries. I could imagine he/she has lived in places where Christmas is not as commercialized as in the USA? [and the spillover into Thanksgiving etc as sandy proposes]

                                                                2. re: 7daysinparis

                                                                  "commercialization" meaning that turkeys are cheap? Great deals on baking supplies?
                                                                  Maybe all your friends that are so stressed over a meal ought to practice yoga or something. Maybe step out of the hamster wheel and enjoy life.
                                                                  My "stress" is that we are leaving this afternoon for my parent's house in MN, and I am still in bed, and haven't packed. I need to get some booze to give the fruitcake another bath, run to the library and return some stuff.
                                                                  Oh yeah, and pack.
                                                                  hahaha! Lovin' it.
                                                                  I'm glad that you are able to take some time to be thankful, that's what it is about. One can choose to get caught up in the "madness," or not.

                                                                  1. re: wyogal

                                                                    At least you won't have the added stress of bad roads and bad weather.

                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      Yes, thankfully. It looks to be nice and dry, a bit windy, but that's what's raising the temps and melting the snow and ice! We usually don't go anywhere in the winter. We have, when our son was in college a couple of hours away, (that's with just two dinky towns between, like 300 people or less), and he was without a car. Then we had to travel back and forth and it was a nightmare.
                                                                      But, this week looks good, so I don't think I'll need to take several dramamine to get through it! ha!

                                                              2. thanksgiving is just an extended dinner party with a ton of local and seasonal dishes. if it were any other dinner party, would you refuse to participate in the "madness?"

                                                                1. It's not a big deal to me because I'm Australian... but it makes my husband happy. And I love turkey and pumpkin pie, so I'm not going to gripe about it. We're more likely to do a non-conventional Christmas - DH EXPECTS turkey and pie on turkey day, and I'm not so attached to trying to recreate my Christmas customs for two. Just don't expect me to watch sports!

                                                                  1. I've been in France on Bastille Day and Russia on (Orthodox) Christmas, which are both dates that are meaningless to Americans, and we like Cinco de Mayo and May Day, too, every year. I think part of the joy of any holiday is to try to embrace it like a "native" no matter where you are. Perhaps, even though it is meaningless to you, if you live in the US, try to make Thanksgiving your own and have fun with it. It doesn't have to mean the same to you, but (at least in our house) it's always nice to have a reason to enjoy friends and family. You can use the day as an excuse without actually understanding the entire meaning of it.

                                                                    1. It sounds to me 7 days, that you might be French...
                                                                      If this is so, I DO understand some of your hesitance to get excited about Thanksgiving. My BF is French, and much of the food of the day (traditional items), are not pleasant to the French palate.
                                                                      Roasted Turkey, American mashed potatoes (so NOT Joel Rubochon, unfortunately), cranberry sauce, yams with sugar and marshmallows. And, worst of all according to Jean Francois (the BF) are GRAVY, STUFFING, and Pumpkin pie. Sigh.
                                                                      He enjoys the company of my family, who are all hounds, so our spread is certainly more updated and interesting, but it is not his favorite for sure. Once year, we were visiting a friend of his in Sedona who is also french, and Phillipe orderd a very expensive heritage turkey and I prepared everything. Fortunately, that year, the turkey was Superb, and the roasted veggies I made were a big hit, as was the prune tart with Armanac I made. They hardly touched the stuffing or gravy, of course. Oh, and the potatoes we had were JF's famous - justly - Gratin Dauphinois, which are the best potatoes on earth. They don't NEED gravy:)

                                                                      Do what YOU like on that day. Or invite friends over for a meal of foods you enjoy cooking and eating.
                                                                      Just whatever you do, do remember to give thanks.

                                                                      22 Replies
                                                                      1. re: gingershelley

                                                                        How could anyone not like gravy? DTMFA : )

                                                                        1. re: babette feasts

                                                                          Gravy is not a very European thing to have. Some meats will have a sauce accompanying them but they're not like gravy - they're jus (light and thin) or a cream sauce, rather than the thick, shiny, brown sauce which to me characterises gravy (at least British gravy). I've eaten chicken with applesauce and steak with roquefort sauce but never seen a gravy. Hence I usually skip it, out of habit and cultural preference, though not always.

                                                                          1. re: limoen

                                                                            Then why do the French have something called "beurre manie?"

                                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                                I think a thickened sauce is very different to most gravies - I explained what I think characterises gravy above, especially pre-made ones. Anyway I was saying this based on my experience of being served European food in the home - not trying to challenge anyone.

                                                                              2. re: limoen

                                                                                The sauce that comes with sauerbraten, and the sauce that comes with rouladen, are types of gravy.Swedish meatballs swim in a sauce that looks like gravy. Konigsberger Klopse also come with a type of gravy.

                                                                                Gravy might not be a very French thing to have, but I've seen a lot of sauces that look like gravy in Scandinavia and Central Europe.

                                                                                1. re: prima

                                                                                  Just don't CALL it gravy, add a glug of wine to it, and it will be fine...really -- there are plenty of French sauces that my grandmother would have called Gravy. (Bechamel? It's white gravy. Adding a beurre manie to pan sauces to thicken them? I defy you to tell anyone's American grandmother that that isn't gravy -- she'll beat you with her spoon for being uppity)

                                                                              3. re: babette feasts

                                                                                The French. They love sauces, but gravy is not a sauce in their book, trust me!

                                                                                1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                  Gravy, USAmerican-style (also UK-style), that thick, brown or white gloop, is not food.

                                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                                    I agree that reduced pan juices enriched with herbs, wine, etc. is far superior to any American gravy. I hated gravy growing up, and only find it tolerable now when I make it myself. I use good stock and/or cream and make sure the roux is very well cooked. The burnt leavings with raw flour gravy of my childhood is but a distant nightmare.

                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                      according to your personal taste, I suppose.

                                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                                        Good American gravy is not "gloop." My Swiss grandmother taught my Irish mother how to make a grand sauce from a butter/flour roux and homemade stock, very much in the Swiss/Austrian/German tradition. In better restaurants in the U.S., this is gravy. I couldn't say what one might find in chains (probably "gloop.")

                                                                                    2. re: gingershelley

                                                                                      I could show you photos of plenty of French people bellying up to plates heaped with traditional Thanksgiving fare at our house -- and photos of them returning to the kitchen for seconds on most of it.

                                                                                      Our first year here, the cranberry sauce was devoured -- the bowl was scraped clean. There was barely enough oyster dressing to have for leftovers (darnit) and I keep baking extra pumpkin pies -- because they all disappear....along with the pecan pie, which was cut into 16 slivers so more people could try it.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        Sunshine, I am only reporting on the Parisienne folks I know... and they are loathe to eat gravy, stuffing and yams.

                                                                                        However, I think they are very old-school, as I keep up with the French board on hear, and am a fan of Dorie Greenspan, David Lebovitts, etc. and apparently the modern up-to-date french, actually like things like cranberry sauce, poutimarron (pumkin) pie ( or better made into a tart with pear, to shift to a French way of thinking).
                                                                                        Sigh, I think it is the old-school rememberances of ways things taste to them, which is funny, as they enjoy new Resto's in France that I suggest, often, but there is still just a built in prejudice about how 'certain' foods can be made or how they should appear.

                                                                                        And Stuffing or dressing is NEVER ok to a french person.

                                                                                        The only french stuffed Bresse chicken recipe I have is for foie and macaroni. Sounds aweful to me, but to each, his one birthright. Smile:)

                                                                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                          I knew you were reporting on your observations -- just thought you'd be interested that mine are polar opposite. We're both right -- we know what we've seen.

                                                                                          I don't know what possessed me to think of this during a conversation about Thanksgiving this afternoon with one of my students -- but if you describe stuffing or dressing as a savoury pain perdu, they "get it" a little easier.

                                                                                          And it is -- old bread soaked in a liquid (bouillon rather than milk), with added flavors (sage and onion rather than raisins and muscat or cannelle), and then baked. My French visitors regularly take home leftover dressing

                                                                                          And pumpkin pie is usually first received with a grimace -- as they're trying to think of the savoury preparations (curry, soup, puree) -- worked into a pie, rather than the sweet, creamy variation that is a pumpkin pie. I prefer making mine with potiron - the flavor is way better than any canned pumpkin I've bought -- last year I used the last can of Libby's and served it next to a pie made with potiron -- not potimarron -- the color and flavor of the potiron was head and shoulders better than the Libby's pie.

                                                                                          When I was teaching English at a high school here, I used my recipe (okay, the Joy recipe) as a lesson -- a couple of them went home and tried it that weekend, and came back excited to tell me that they'd tried it and liked it.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            I can get my French friends to eat pumpkin - you are right - potiron - when I make it in soup, or better yet - stuffed savory pumpkin - yum!
                                                                                            Dorie Greenspans 'Pumpkin with everything good' is sensational; stuffed with cream, bread, cheese and herbs and baked until all tender and the filling is puffed up. Just cut in wedges to serve.
                                                                                            I like your comments on comparing stuffing to Pain Purdu, will try that in the argument next time.

                                                                                            1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                              Or even stuffing as a savory bread pudding.

                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                (Pain Perdu is the French name for French toast or bread pudding.)

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  Pain Perdu (lost bread) - I thought it was only for French Toast - ?!?!?!

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    Yes, "lost bread," can have several translations, and also uses.


                                                                                      2. Celebrating Thanksgiving isn't so much about Turkey and the fixings, or whatever your traditions might be.

                                                                                        Think of Thanksgiving as a time to be with family and friends and to be thankful for all that we have -- be it very little, or alot.

                                                                                        Viewed that way, there is no specific cultural designation for Thanksgiving. It becomes just a joyous time to be with family and friends, and most of all, to be happy and thankful.

                                                                                        1. I think janetofreno hit the nail on the head - posts regarding Thanksgiving on Chowhound are just a small slice of the average American Thanksgiving focus.

                                                                                          The only real "madness" I've encountered is trying to grocery shop for the holiday. If you avoid grocery stores then you'll avoid the madness. Of course there is the consumer driven madness the next day...

                                                                                          Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for two reasons:
                                                                                          It brings people together regardless of religion or background.

                                                                                          It seems fairly easy to avoid the holiday, it's just one day. Much easier to not have it in your radar than something like Christmas where music, decorations, television specials, etc. focus on the holiday for weeks ahead of it's arrival.

                                                                                          So find a pleasant way to spend the day and avoid thoughts of turkey!

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                                            Here hear Meatn3 on the idea of what the madness is...

                                                                                            You can skip that by not waiting to go to the store the 2 days before, and choosing to think about it as a 'THANKS'giving, not just a food feast.

                                                                                            I think all of us chowhounds should bow our heads, and be grateful that we have the opportunity, clearly the wearwithall financially ( or are very creative), and time to think so much about abundance of food and how we make it.

                                                                                            Many don't have the luxury..... so, I would encourage us all to give back on this holiday under such tough times. I am imagining that not many chowhounds have time ( as they are cooking) to volunteer for others on the holiday, but what if you bough another turkey for the less fortunate, or a baf of common staples for the holiday and donated? Send a check to your local food bank?

                                                                                            Let's GIVE Thanksgiving Chowhounds! Not just eat it!

                                                                                            1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                              YES. My sister does Thanksgiving (I do Christmas).

                                                                                              Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No gifts, no baskets, just a meal shared with friends and family.

                                                                                              It used to be difficult to dispose of the free turkey the local market gives away--there are only 2 in the household, so a whole turkey is a no go. Then the local foodbank set up outside the market for the "unwanted" turkey. Now, there is actually the option to not take the turkey; they just automatically donate it to a family in need.

                                                                                              Mom & BIL flip for the carcass and other leftovers. The winner makes the turkey soup and shares.

                                                                                              1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                Those are some great thoughts and the few liners you shared about your Parisienne friend are recognizable ! Thanks a bunch for your responses.

                                                                                            2. I do find the OP's post interesting as I happen to like Thanksgiving the most out of the typical holidays celebrated in the US. I have always loved how it is not a religious holiday and everyone can particulate no matter what. There is truly no set menu, many people make what they want aside from the typically mentioned foods. It's not simply a day to celebrate the harvest from when when America was in it's beginnings but a day to think about what you have and be thankful.

                                                                                              If you don't wish to participate there really is no reason to do so though. Just say "thank you for thinking of me, but, i won't be able to attend" when invited to dinner by others.

                                                                                              1. and if you have the day off, maybe consider volunteering somewhere that day.

                                                                                                1. If you are fortunate enough to be invited into someone's home to share in a Thanksgiving meal go and enjoy yourself. Be thankful that you have such good friends that want to share their traditions with you. Take some time to understand and appreciate the traditions of others

                                                                                                  But if you still chose to avoid being dragged into such madness I'm certain someone as broad minded as yourself can find other ways to amuse them selves.

                                                                                                  If that doesn't work well then it's one day a year get over it and move on!

                                                                                                  1. Thanks everyone for your responses. I thought some of the suggestions were worth to further explore ! As an expat i lived in and traveled to many countries and as some of you might have guessed I'm of mixed heritage, not married to an American though :-) but I do have many American friend I hold dear.
                                                                                                    As much as I embrace every aspect of the different cultures, sub-cultures and customs, this one I just have to pass. Thanks again and I do wish everyone a great day however you will spend it and/or celebrate it !


                                                                                                    1. The "Madness of Thanksgiving" is an annual family reunion for our extended family. I have a cousin with a big house who likes to host Thanksgiving. It is the one time each year where we see everybody. So while it is somewhat of a madhouse, it is with family and that is really the point of Thanksgiving. We choose to be a part of a huge Thanksgiving (the record is 54 all sitting down at tables at the same time, as I said, big house). Many other families choose to have a quiet Thanksgiving. It is only what you make of it.

                                                                                                      1. While I understand people want to defend their special & significant holiday, I think we should remember that even on chowhound there can be some drama around always having to host ungrateful guests, the in-laws' boring non-inclusive menu, even too much butter in the sides. In our personal lives, I'm sure we all know people who dread the holidays because of expensive crowded flights, dysfunctional family, loneliness, etc. So, I can't really blame someone who hasn't personally experienced the upsides from getting a bad impression, depending on who they spend time with.

                                                                                                        1. Actually, we have often found ourselves in the opposite situation - we were in locations, where Thanksgiving was "foreign" to the restaurants. In most cases, the staff was intrigued with our description of Thanksgiving, and the meal involved. Many tried to accommodate us, but the most fun was actually sharing the history of the US event, with them. I have greatly enjoyed sharing with the UK restaurants, when we were there over what would be a holiday, if we were in the US. They various staff members have seemed to enjoy things greatly, and have done some amazing things, with their normal menus. We always share some of our wines with them, and thank them graciously.

                                                                                                          For many decades, I experienced rather traditional Thanksgiving meals, and never gave things too much consideration. Lately, I have been giving much more "thanks," due to what life has offered up. When the concept has been shared, most have gladly participated, and have enjoyed.


                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                            Due to a canceled flight to get us home in time for Thanksgiving, Mr Pine and I had to remain in India. His relatives and the cook tried hard to imagine a T'giving dinner for us: curried chicken (no turkey, and the chicken was chopped into bits), pomegrante in place of cranberries, Indian aloo in lieu of mashed potatoes, and some sort of a squash samosa standing in for pumpkin pie. One of our most memorable Thanksgivings ever (altho' I've never replicated the meal). We heartily gave thanks for their thoughtfulness.

                                                                                                            On the flip side of not-my-holiday, my first Diwali in India was "madness" with all the noise, boisterous crowds, and unknown traditions. However, I learned to love it and celebrate a new version Festival of Lights.

                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                              that's so sweet of them to try to make a dinner for you!

                                                                                                              I love celebrations -- so for me, it's great fun to get the opportunity to see a celebration I'm unfamiliar with.

                                                                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                That sounds great, and the attempt should have earned "bonus points!"

                                                                                                                Reminds me of the end of "A Christmas Story," as the family heads to a Chinese restaurant, that is open on Christmas in Indiana. The attempt should score many of those bonus points.

                                                                                                                Glad that you kept an open mind, rolled with those punches, and enjoyed.

                                                                                                                This will not be the first year, where we have ordered turkey, long after the day, that it is traditional. "Stuff" happens, and we must be prepared to deal with it.


                                                                                                            2. Why not just go with the flow?

                                                                                                              I am many things, but Asian is not one of them. Still, my tennis doubles partner was Chinese. We celebrated his Chinese New Year, for over a decade, and enjoyed it greatly.

                                                                                                              Celebrate different cultures, and enjoy. It is not hard, nor is it a big deal.

                                                                                                              Heck, being Scotts, Irish, English, German, Jew, I get to celebrate MANY things, and enjoy each. My lovely, young wife is French, Native American, Italian, Cajun, and a Catholic to boot, so we have a full calendar of "events," and there is seldom a day, that is not some sort of "celebration" to one of us. What is wrong with celebrations?



                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                And conversely, there's nothing wrong with no co-opting every holiday as well.

                                                                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                  Absolutely! Especially any holiday, where wine, or Champagne are served!!

                                                                                                                  It should be about the celebration, regardless of whether one is familiar with it, or not.


                                                                                                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                  Wonderful! Hubby and I created a son who is Danish, Scots, English, Irish, German, Native American...and maybe more. That's off the top of my head.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc


                                                                                                                    Had we had children, I think that their lineage would have been about the same - a virtual UN.

                                                                                                                    As for celebrations and holidays, we try to celebrate most of them, even the one's that do not fit into our particular cultures.


                                                                                                                3. Wow, I'm surprised. I thought every culture had a harvest festival.

                                                                                                                  If the issue is unique American foods like turkey or cranberry sauce or whatever, serve something else? What are the winter vegetables and typical game meats where you're from?

                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                                                                                    Not at all, Dave -- the US and Canada are the only countries that have a festival like Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                                    There are harvest festivals, but they are just that -- harvest festivals -- no autumn festivals anywhere else when families gather to offer thanks (to whatever source they choose) for the good things they have in their life.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      I'm trying to parse how "harvest festival" is different from "autumn festivals where families gather to give thanks". In other countries they don't invite the extended family?

                                                                                                                      Funny how we're all going off on our own tangents trying to figure out what the OP meant. This whole thread reminds me of the movie The Right Stuff...

                                                                                                                      "what Gus is saying is..........."

                                                                                                                      1. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                                                                                        The harvest festivals I've seen in Europe are community affairs -- more of a carnival atmosphere -- to celebrate the end of the harvest.

                                                                                                                        They're nothing even remotely resembling our family-centered celebration of thanks.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          Really? I think the situation is not as clear-cut as that.
                                                                                                                          I recall Mid-Autumn Moon festival gatherings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Autu...) when family and friends all gathered and celebrated, in effect giving thanks for our continuing prosperity and community.
                                                                                                                          There are others: http://www.harvestfestivals.net/harve...
                                                                                                                          p.s. I'm also commenting in response to your previous post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8162...

                                                                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                            you apparently missed my very clear statement about *in Europe*

                                                                                                                            Please stop nitpicking every single pixel that appears in a box with my name on it.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                              But as I indicated, your previous post (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8162...) did not limit your examples to Europe. Just saying.

                                                                                                                              Eh, different folks have different appreciations of celebrations of one sort or another and each person brings personal biases and views to such events.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Dave_in_PA

                                                                                                                      We never have turkey - as our Thanksgiving food or any other time. Turkey really isn't very good, if you think about it. It is heavily reliant upon seasonings, gravies, side dishes, etc.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                        Sandy, turkey can be fantastic -- a fresh, free-range bird is a worthy splurge, because it will be tender, moist, and bursting with flavor -- all I do with mine is salt and pepper and olive oil, and it's delicious and succulent.

                                                                                                                        (I don't brine because I don't have time - the birds are butchered on Wednesday, I pick them up on Friday, and roast on Saturday.)

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          The one time that I made a Thanksgiving turkey, I did use a fresh, free-range, etc. bird. I brined it and did the high-temp roasting method. It was far, far better than your usual bird, but it still tasted like turkey! My problem, no doubt!

                                                                                                                        2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                          Ah, Sandy. You have never had a great Turkey Open-faced Sandwich. I have been blessed, and it is a thing of great delight.

                                                                                                                          Yes, it DOES have a gravy, but a very special, turkey gravy, and is worth the effort, if you can still find a good one.

                                                                                                                          Also, though not Thanksgiving related, we have a wonderful SW restaurant, Richardson's, that does the most spectacular Smoked Turkey Enchillada. It is NOT to be missed, if one cares about great food.

                                                                                                                          Though I had to endure the wrath of Mrs. Goldstein, I would order a Turkey Ruben. She would argue, but her chef knew me well, and would just move her aside, and do my Ruben, but with turkey. I'd devour the sandwich, pay, and be on my way. The chef would cluck her tongue, and count the dollars, right in front of Mrs. Goldstein.

                                                                                                                          Turkey can be great, and quite flavorful. if you have never had a Bates' Turkey Farms' Smoked Turkey, then you do not know what you have missed: http://batesturkey.com/

                                                                                                                          Do not turn your nose up at the lowly turkey. Heck, if nothing else, watching me do a "Cajun Deep Fried Turkey," is worth the price of admission!!!!


                                                                                                                      2. I agree with the other people who are confused by the phrase "madness of Thanksgiving". Honestly you would hardly know that the holiday existed if you were not very observant. There is no madness surrounding it at all. Especially when four weeks before there is the spectacle of Halloween and four weeks later there is Christmas. Thanksgiving is absolutely madness-free. Even compared to Easter or Valentine's actually. Perhaps you just feel left out. Just ignore it. I never know when it is Eid or when it is Chinese New Year. Just live a regular Thursday and give thanks to your boss for the day off.....

                                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: t19103

                                                                                                                          Well, while I generally agree with you, you should have attended a few of MY family Thanksgivings. There was plenty of spectacle, but not what most, normal US families would recognize.

                                                                                                                          Still, I am a big fan of Thanksgiving, even if in an unconvential way.


                                                                                                                          1. re: t19103

                                                                                                                            " Honestly you would hardly know that the holiday existed if you were not very observant." I don't observe Thanksgiving but it is extremely difficult to avoid the grocery stores and shops which are filled with Tgiving -related displays, colleagues/friends/media talking about the event, preparations, the holiday, even Chowhound has an increased discussion of Tgiving recipes, etc. Maybe it's not as obvious for someone who grew up with it, but to me it seems ubiquitous.

                                                                                                                            1. re: jadec

                                                                                                                              but why is this so horrible?

                                                                                                                              It's a popular and beloved holiday, so people enjoy talking about it.

                                                                                                                              Okay, you don't understand it, and okay, you don't want to celebrate it -- but living in a different culture means accepting that there will be holidays and celebrations that you don't understand and/or don't celebrate. It's absolutely unfair of you to be living in another country and poo-poohing the local holidays.

                                                                                                                              (Put the shoe on the other foot -- if you were in your home country and someone whinged and moaned about one of your biggest and most beloved holidays, saying that it's silly and overhyped and crazy -- wouldn't you feel like telling them to go home and not come back?)

                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                This is the only time and place I've expressed my feelings. IRL I change the subject, leave or listen politely. I mentioned my feelings nere only to counter the statement that "everyone loves tgiving".

                                                                                                                                1. re: jadec

                                                                                                                                  You know, it's just food, friends, and family. Are you opposed to these things? What can be bad about celebrating them?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                    Traditional tgiving food is boring to me; none of my friends or family celebrate. As I mentioned before I'm happy to stay home, read and watch movies but given the opportunity to be out of the country and miss it all, even better!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: jadec

                                                                                                                                      So don't eat traditional Thanksgiving food. What is it about Thanksgiving that bothers you? I really don't understand how Thanksgiving can present a problem to anyone, ie. sitting down to a meal with family and friends and being thankful.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                        I was wondering the same thing, John E.

                                                                                                                                        Before this thread, I didn't realize anyone could or would be annoyed or bothered by a holiday geared towards being thankful.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                          I love Thanksgiving & haven't always necessarily had the "traditional" Thanksgiving items.....My first husband & I would usually make a homemade Italian item along with the traditional Thanksgiving foods....then we started inviting his single male friends, so did a variety of things: Italian/Traditional, Greek buffet, et al.....always fun to have good friends & good food!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jenscats5

                                                                                                                                            Your Thanksgiving sounds like fun. We have turkey, stuffing, mashed potaoes (I have been making them for 8 years, last year I made 20 lbs., my record is 35lbs.) gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie (last year the sweet potatoes were forgotten) but we also have a lot of other food like ham, venison and a lot of family ethnic foods such as pyrohy, holubtsi, and kapusta with sausage. It's a large family gathering and some years it has been the only time everybody gets together.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                              They were great Thanksgivings....tho were are no longer married, I still remember them as a LOT of work but yet a LOT of fun!! The alternative meals were always interesting & it was more about the company and the fun than the food at the time.

                                                                                                                                2. re: jadec

                                                                                                                                  i agree jadec - and i think it's very hard for Americans - and I'm one who grew up here and cooked for it every year except for the last two - to see how everything we do/celebrate/participate in is inundated with commercialism and the supermarkets trying to sell you the warm and fuzzy feeling. it IS ubiquitous. i don't hate thanksgiving but i'm not unaware that it's become another manufactured holiday. yes it can be enjoyable cooking and spending time with family and good food, but that doesn't mean it isn't subject to the same trappings every holiday in this country is - always an opportunity to sell something. no one's telling everyone else not to love their holiday, the OP and jadec were merely saying it's not their cup of tea. flame away!

                                                                                                                              2. This probably should be posted between Bill Hunt's and Pine time's post - about having Thanksgiving Dinner in a foreign location.
                                                                                                                                Some years ago we happened to be in Morocco over Thanksgiving, actually we were tenting in Erg Chebbi/Sahara, that day climbing the high dunes to watch the magnificent sunrise.
                                                                                                                                We all talked about missing the Thanksgiving Dinner and the Turkey. Imagine our big surprise as we were treated to a Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings. The Moroccan Tour guides did listen!!
                                                                                                                                At Dinner the Turkey was paraded proudly into the tent on a large platter, surrounded by lots of nice Vegetables - with the head still attached!!!! Husband and I agree, that Thanksgiving Dinner (without huge culinary value) lives forever in our memory ! It was a really sweet touch and we loved it! We still wondered where they had found a Turkey on such short notice in the Sahara.....:-)

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: RUK


                                                                                                                                  Now, we have been gone from the US for many Thanksgivings, and lately, even when on US soil, have been drawn in many other directions. Still, your episode sounds great, and obviously, you will remember it for a lifetime.

                                                                                                                                  Thank you for sharing,


                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                    Wow, RUK, that waaaay out-does my curried chicken for Thanksgiving! Shows just how much thoughtfulness counts, sometimes in place of the culinary adventure!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                      Absolutely! Thoughtfulness goes a long way at times! :-) The curried Chicken sounds lovely too!

                                                                                                                                2. I love being "dragged" in to feasts and celebrations outside my realm of experience. The alternative is Chinese take-out.

                                                                                                                                  1. I lived in Puerto Rico for half a year. There were holidays and festivals constantly. As an onlooker I was intrigued and enjoyed observing the excitement and joy in those participating. I would have loved to have known someone well enough to have the nuances explained and perhaps be invited to join in.

                                                                                                                                    The only time I've ever not enjoyed someones holiday was Christmas day for a few years as a child. We were the only non-Christians in our area. The flurry of activity and excitement is impossible to not be aware of - and it was fun! But the day itself felt lonely at that age - everything was closed, all your friends were immersed in their family's celebration and that was all that was on TV. At that age it felt like the everyone in the world was invited to a wonderful party except you.

                                                                                                                                    Which leads to me wonder if Thanksgiving festivities cause you to be homesick or heighten the feeling of being an outsider/onlooker? It is such an approachable holiday that if you wish to feel involved a few sincere questions about it would probably garner an invite from a co-worker or acquaintance. Many people would enjoy sharing the experience with a "newbie".

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                      Having others at our Thanksgiving table is a longstanding tradition in our family -- someone who has no family to go to, someone who can't travel home for any reason, and visitors to the USA somehow always found their way to our table, and all have spent a pleasant day, even if Thanksgiving wasn't "their" holiday.

                                                                                                                                    2. About 25-30 years ago there was a delightful piece in the Washington Post, the memoir of a Cuban refugee whose family tried to follow Thanksgiving traditions after arriving here. They understood about the roast turkey but they had it with black beans and rice ("and that is how we have had it ever since"). They were told they should also serve hot rolls so they did the only kind they knew, croissants, and with guava jelly. All sounds delicious to me. But the mother drew the line at pumpkin pie, which she thought sounded "'dees-gosting".

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                        LOTS of people around Tampa have black beans and rice on Christmas and Thanksgiving -- right alongside the roast pig and/or the turkey.

                                                                                                                                      2. My Khmer friends are having Thanksgiving with all the fixins: turkey, prohok, lok lac, and lots of rice. What a great American holiday--hope everybody has a happy one!