I have cast off my sad sack (a couple of days and pints of Haagen Dazs later) thanks to the Role Mama and Mr. Role Mama and a projected viewing of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles in their lounge (and more comfort food) and have spent today slicing and dicing, baking and boiling, stirring and seasoning for Thanksgiving, which is now only hours away. The Duchess spent the day zooming around me in her walker, watching me intently as we listened to our first round of Christmas music and I couldn’t help but feel the stirrings of tradition in the air. While it’s an expected holiday in America, it will be special here. It will be something that our family does as a cross-cultural household. And what a great thing to do — a day set aside to stop, reflect and give thanks for all of the blessings, both everyday and miraculous, in our lives, all while gorging ourselves on delicious food.
In case you were wondering, Brits don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I know, I know, that seems patronizing even to say it, but American people have asked me. I’ve been hosting and feeding Brits at Thanksgiving for a while now and it’s always interesting to see what they make of it all. Here is why:
When someone gets an invite the first question is usually, ‘What is Thanksgiving? Is it like Friends?’ To be honest, I’ve never been completely sure what people mean by this. Do they mean are their 6 of us who hang out in a local coffee shop, have a somewhat incestuous vibe in our friendship group, and who will find a reason to bicker on the day? Then, no, it’s not like Friends. I can only guess that for many Brits their only real American reference point is Friends, so that’s the best idea that they have of what Thanksgiving is.
The next question tends to be, ‘Isn’t Thanksgiving bigger than Christmas in America?’ and that is usually followed with, ‘Should I bring a gift?’ Unfortunately, I’m too kind to take advantage of their Turkey Day ignorance. Just think of all of the presents I could have ended up with over the years. Me and my silly virtues. For the record, you don’t bring gifts to Thanksgiving. It’s a massive meal (think an early Christmas dinner), usually followed by a lot of bloated people gathered around a TV watching American football.
My favourite thing, though, has to be how freaked out they are by the food. Really traditional Brits tend not to mix sweet and savoury food. Ever. The idea freaks them out. Sure, the more relaxed of your English cooks will be a bit more adventurous, but they still can’t hold a candle to the concoctions you’ll find on an American table at Thanksgiving. Americans seem to make EVERYTHING sweet and savoury. Baked beans with brown sugar, sweet potato casserole with vanilla extract and sugar, Pumpkin Pie with cinnamon and spices…oh and sugar. So many of my sweet British friends who have joined us for Thanksgiving over the years will say, ‘This is the WEIRDEST meal I’ve ever had, but I love it!’
As I sit here (and realize I forgot to reduce the heat while baking the first pumpkin pie – Argh!), I’m beginning to reflect on all of the good, amazing, INCREDIBLE things that have happened this year that make me so thankful — that just may be sprinkled with a bit of reflection on how much I’m looking forward to digging into that cheeseball.