Thanksgiving. Tell us (non-US folk) what it's all about.

Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 09:17 am
At the risk of being the romantic in the crowd, let me say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. It may be (and is) all of the things already described but it is also the only day of the year the Americans set aside to actually contemplate how relatively good they have it and consider it with a sense of gratitude rather than entitlement.

History aside, food choice aside, Thanksgiving to me today is the one day when everyone at my table expresses what it is they are grateful for and why. They also express how they can work to make someone else's life a bit easier in the coming year (house rules).

It's a day for sharing with friends and being together as family. It's the one day of the year that I pull rank on my children and insist they spend the day at home. K came home from college on Tuesday night. Generally, she would have run off and hung out with her friends on Wednesday and Thursday. Instead she went out Wednesday night after she'd helped me make the pies and she spent the entire day here yesterday being with family. Today she is out with friends. Yesterday they would have all been welcomed here.

Our feast includes foods that we only make once a year - pies, for instance, or yams (sans marshmallows), homemade cranberry sauce (made from scratch by Mr B the night before), bread stuffing cooked alongside a capon (we don't care much for turkey) - as well as traditional side dishes from both sides of the family. I do most of the food prep in the morning and then call all-hands-on-deck for the last half-hour for an early afternoon feast.

Afterwards we watch some football, go out for a walk (probably the only time all year all of us go for a walk together), play board games and/or watch a movie (both yesterday -- "March of the Penguins" was pretty interesting) and then begin to resume our individual pursuits.

I won't shop today. I'll enjoy a day off from work. I'll increase my exercise a bit to help work off yesterday's feast. I'll continue to be grateful for the blessings I have and enjoy the nice weather we're having this weekend. I'll begin to turn my attention to Christmas planning but not really turn my thoughts there yet. Mostly, I'll just kick back and enjoy the fact that with all of the leftovers sitting in the fridge I don't have to cook for the foreseeable future.
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 09:25 am
Ok, pilgrims and turkeys aside, I'm going to step up and tell you what thanksgiving means to me.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.

It doesn't involve any commercialism or mass consumption. I don't sit around thinking about the pilgrims and the first winter here, the indians or anything like that.

For me it truly is a day to give thanks for what you have. I make it a point to tell those I love the best I'm grateful they are part of my life. I reflect for awhile on the fact I'm much more fortunate than many many people in this world because I have a roof over my head, food to readily eat, a job and good health.

We do eat a special meal on that day, but it's not the focal point.

The best part of yesterday for me was sitting outside and looking at all the leaves that had changed color on the trees up and down my block.

Then, since Thanksgiving Day is always on a Thursday, I look forward to having a 4 day weekend. I'm going to use it to relax, do a little cleaning, get my hair cut and work on the outside holiday decorations I'm cooking up (which cost very little and are all being made by me).

That, for me, is what Thanksgiving is all about Charlie Brown.
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Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 09:59 am
I love Thanksgiving too. I usually host the family dinner and it is a day of good food, pleasant conversation, laughter, games, football, and generally a pleasant satisfying time. In a nation in which the poorest of our poor are rich by the standards in much of the world, we are truly blessed and it is appropriate that we appreciate those blessings.

We do teach the little ones some of the history too. And we prefer the history as I learned it as a child--it was a time that the earliest immigrants celebrated and appreciated the fact that they had survived those first months of deprivation, starvation and cold and that they now had food and bright prospects for a better world to come. And there was also the image of immigrant and Native Americans coming together in a shared feast and mutual respect, acceptance and everybody getting along together. I prefer that children be taught that image as the way things should be and can be.
Steve 41oo
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 10:18 am
Foxfyre wrote:
We do teach the little ones some of the history too. And we prefer the history as I learned it as a child--it was a time that the earliest immigrants celebrated and appreciated the fact that they had survived those first months of deprivation, starvation and cold and that they now had food and bright prospects for a better world to come. And there was also the image of immigrant and Native Americans coming together in a shared feast and mutual respect, acceptance and everybody getting along together. I prefer that children be taught that image as the way things should be and can be.
but wasnt.
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Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 11:22 am
canadian thanksgiving is not that much different from the american kind - except it's held in october .

germany has it's "ernte- dank-fest" (harvest-thank you-feast) .

particularly in rural regions this tends to be quite elaborate .


the ancient egyptians also had their thanksgiving celebrations - but at the beginning of the harvest !

The start of the harvest in ancient Egypt involved celebrations in honor of Min, which were often opened by the king himself (at least in a certain region), who reaped the first ears of grain with a sickle. This was the month of Shemou (Harvest), and a statue of Min, represented as an ithyphallic god of fertility in iconography, was placed on an inclined pedestal, which was the symbol of ma'at. This pedestal represented the primordial mountain, a symbol of resurrection, renewal, and rebirth. During the processional honoring Min, hymns were sung and ritual dances and perhaps other types of dances were performed. However, there were many other festivals around the land in honor of the harvest. This was an agricultural society, but there were not temples to Min everywhere, and in many instances, other gods had to be the patrons of the harvest.

Patron of: fertility, sexuality, and travelers through the eastern Sahara.

Appearance: a man with a large erect penis. Sometimes he is shown in the garb of a pharaoh, wearing a feathered crown and carrying a flail.

Description: a very ancient god, Min has become rather popular in the modern era, a sort of resurgence of his cult. Min was honored with a variety of ceremonies, some involving the harvest, others praying for a male heir to the pharaoh. Lettuce was his sacred plant, for it was believed by the Egyptians to be an aphrodisiac. The Greeks identified him with their god Pan, and the Romans believed Min to be the same god as Priapus.

better stay away from MIN !!!

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Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 11:32 am
'Twas the night of Thanksgiving, but I just couldn't sleep

I tried counting backwards, I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned - The dark meat and white

But I fought the temptation with all of my might

Tossing and turning with anticipation

The thought of a snack became infatuation

So I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door

And gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore!

I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,

Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.

I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,

'Til all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.

I crashed through the ceiling,

Floating into the sky

With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.

But, I managed to yell as I soared past the trees......

Happy eating to all, Pass the cranberries, Please!

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump,

May your potatoes 'n gravy have nary a lump,

May your yams be delicious.

May your pies take the prize,

May your Thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs.

author unknown
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Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 04:25 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Merry Andrew wrote:

Which part are you refering to, Farmer? I thought I was being highly critical of the whole mess.

I believe there was some irony in Farmerman's post.
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Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 08:40 pm
Well I got through the end of page two and thought I'd be able to be all contrarian by declaring my love for Thanksgiving but this page is full of paeans. Hmph.

We tend to have it just as a family -- me, E.G., sozlet. We planned to have friends over this year but that went pear-shaped (everyone's fine, just an illness scare -- the word "quarantine" was used), so it was just us. E.G. works a LOT and it's nice to have a day of just sitting around, hanging out, especially E.G. and sozlet while I cook. I really like cooking Thanksgiving foods, not sure why -- some sort of tradition thing, or one-time-a-year thing, though there's not really any reason for it to be just one time a year. We do the handmade (from scratch) cranberry sauce too, and cranberry orange nut bread, and turkey, and gravy (I made "giblet gravy" for the first time this year -- NOT recommended!) and stuffing, and a lovely green bean dish that patiodog recommended. And a homemade carrot cake to top it all off (traditional sozhousehold birthday cake).

I like the gratitude aspect, and the family aspect, and the food. Those are the big three.

I can definitely imagine having a craving for cranberry and turkey if I wasn't at home.
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2008 09:04 pm
Thanksgiving with my mother and father, I don't remember much. That was in the early fifties, when I was nine or older. Dining room table, a roast of some sort. In the later fifties we were in serious money trouble and I can only think spare or nothing, or, towards the early sixties, a visit to some restaurant on San Vicente that parceled out slices of this or that. What I remember is my parents' enthusiasm and my not. I almost don't want to remember, the image is poignant, as to wail about.

In my twenties, I went to my cousins' houses, sometimes even bringing the turkey, but mostly being the pie person. Once I married, we had Tnx at our house, in rotation. Mostly terrific, except that once Gator broke an arm jumping off our steps... (He's okay now..)

What, I like quiet thanksgivings, or at last holidays where people actually talk and catch up.

I remember the sotted aunt (no, not me) and the befuddled uncle and the hours of talk about sailing, a matter that has no interest for me except that these people care. I remember a lot of sneezing by me from various cats. And a long ride back home via the pomona freeway or the 405.

Mostly I remember thx mornings, when we'd put the bird in and then go walk Venice beach, a couple of miles each way, getting a coffee and croissant at Ali's at Rose Avenue.
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Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2008 05:55 am
So, there it is Olga. Its a holiday concieved of some national guilt, built on the concepts of gluttony and family , and lasting for 200 years as a particular non-event, event which many people look forward to and others are, at best, ambivalent.

Its a day off complete with symbolism and a menu.

Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2008 07:57 am
Then, for all of you who are anaware of this funfest, there is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade:


Macy's is a huge store in New York, and has been around forever. Each Thanksgiving, they put on a giant parade, featuring huge floats, many singers, dancers and bands.

I have found that Thanksgiving Day was usually the day that I first took out my winter coat, although this year, (probably due to global warming) it was 42 degrees. In most years the poor kids in the parade are doing their best to seem cheerful, all the while fighting off frostbite.

The parade goes up Broadway, and ends with the emergence of Santa Claus. I used to work at a place that was on Broadway. When my son was little, I would take him to the building, which was opened so staff could watch the parade, and we got a "ringside seat".
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Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2008 05:11 pm
So, there it is Olga. Its a holiday concieved of some national guilt, built on the concepts of gluttony and family , and lasting for 200 years as a particular non-event, event which many people look forward to and others are, at best, ambivalent.

Its a day off complete with symbolism and a menu.

I think I've got it now, farmer. I understand everything there is to know about thanksgiving now! No stone left unturned! Very Happy

Thanks everyone for the enlightenment. It's been a real pleasure to read your posts. From the informative, detailed & thoughtful, to the hilarious & cynical ... It's been terrific read for me.

Reply Sun 30 Nov, 2008 11:42 am
Well - i'm late - but here I am - for me it's alllllll about the food- because really I'm pretty cognizant and thankful for my blessings all year round and the rest of my (nuclear) family are less sentimental than me and they couldn't give a ****....
Which is fine - because I just get up early and cook to my heart's content which means:

*cornbread stuffing seasoned with sage and thyme and containing celery and onion but the cornbread has to be made WITHOUT the sugar
*red cabbage seasoned with a dressing of butter, vinegar, BROWN Sugar (NEVER WHITE sugar0, grapefruit juice -never orange-with satsumas stirred in after it steams
*sweet potatoes topped with a mixture of coconut, chopped pecan, brown sugar (never white) and butter (never margarine)
*mashed potatoes
*carrots - glazed in orange juice(never grapefruit juice), butter and brown sugar
you can add whatever green vegetable you like - I personally prefer peas- kind of starchy - thansgiving is all about carbohydrates with gravy

dessertt - for me - pecan, pumpkin, or sour cherry pie with whipped cream - although now that I live in England I'll also accept cream or custard.

Now I'm looking forward to Christmas and Christmas or sticky toffee pudding with either cream or custard.#

You americans should TRY it - if you haven't - they know what they're talkin' about!

We did it in the cafe - had to repeat it Friday - and now will have to do it again next Sunday because the Brits so loved it - I bought these things called turkey crowns which are turkey breasts with the skins but no legs, etc... so all this great succulent meat without the mess and waste.

AWESOME invention...
Bella Dea
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 03:50 pm
I have a friend who was subjected to sweet potato pie WITH GODDAM MARSHMALLOWS when spending a year in Maryland.

Isn't that how it's suppose to be? Neutral (Me, I like em without the mellows but it's pretty common to have browned globs of mellow)
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Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 05:53 pm
1967. I was 13, in the States, studying English; Thanksgiving was coming and all the boarders in the boarding school went to their homes, except us Mexicans, of course. I was told to see who could invite me, for the school would be closed.
So I called some distant relatives -he was brother-in-law to my aunt-, and we had dinner in some professor's house in University City. The professor had another young teenage son. And two young teenage girls had also come to the Thanksgiving dinner.
We ate a huge turkey, with human-sized legs, lots of stuffing, and drank apple cider. Then I went with the boy to his room. The girls appeared from the outside window and dared us to show them our weiners. My friend turned the lights of his room off, produced an electric lantern and told me to unzip. I did, put my weiner on the window sill and he played with the light while the girls were screaming... and watching... and screaming... and watching some more.

Oh, American traditions!
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 07:18 pm
That's not a Thanksgiving tradition I've encountered before... I feel so deprived.
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Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 09:57 pm
sticky toffee pudding with either cream or custard.#

probably the one thing of the uk food groups thats worth eating twice. I love it with a non sweet cream topping. I THINK THATS CLOTTED CREAM. oNE THING ABOUT ANYTHING eNGLISH THAT IS OF A FOOD -LIKE GROUP, THEY DONT GIVE A CRAP WHETHER ITS NAME SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING YOU YACK UP WHEN YOU HAVE A BAD CHEST COLD.
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 04:26 pm
Laughing Yeah - 'clotted cream' sounds pretty disgusting, I agree (clot is just one of those words that's onomonopaeic (or however you spell it( I wish I could trade the ignore feature (which I never use) for spell check which I used to use all the time and badly need).
But, yeah it's good- really fresh tasting on something as sweet as sticky toffee pudding - which could be really overwhelmingly sweet - and IS for me without the custard or cream- but that marriage of flavors - the ginger, the toffee and then the cream is just pretty amazing.
The first time I had it- I was like-' oh my GOD' and my daughter's looking at me like, 'Mom - shut up...' , you're embarrassing meand I told her- 'taste this...'and she says, 'oh my god...'

They put unsweetened cream on a lot of things - the first time I ordered it was with strawberries and it said strawberries and cream and I'm expecting whipped cream (which they call squirty cream) and I get this little pitcher of cream and I'm thinking, okay, what do I do with this? And then I watched other people pour it on their strawberries and I'm up for anything - so I tried it- and WOW- it was good. I also like it on apple pie...just pour a little around the base...it's so simple, but so awesome...I think they do a lot of things that we used to do in the US - like custard...I can remember my mom serving that.
Sometimes I think we should rethink some of the things we've given up in the US
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 04:36 pm
Ive asked for a recipe for sticky toffee pudding here and got a bunch of versions from Australia to UK and Canadia. I only tried one and I like the "Oh my gawd" phrase. It sez it all.
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 04:45 pm
I'll make it and try to get measurements and stuff - my son just put it together from learning it at his job at the Wookey Hole Inn (how do you like that for the name of a pub/restaurant? Anyway - so he taught me how to make it - but we just do it by look/see - but I'll take measurements next time - because this is an 'oh my god' version of it
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