It's our first Thanksgiving here in Chicago, and to be honest, we're all a bit bemused. My in-laws are here, which is lovely, but there's an odd atmosphere... it's like we know we ought to be doing something, but we're not quite sure what it is. Do we sit in our pajamas devouring chocolate selection boxes? Do we watch films and play silly games? There are no instructions for this new day in our calendar, so we'll just throw ourselves at it and see what sticks!
Culturally, we have no way to relate to this day - it's not part of our tradition. Reading up on the history of this very American holiday, I've learned that it's the blend of two traditions: to give thanks to God for a successful harvest - which has its roots in ancient English traditions - and the later, Pilgrim-led reflections on American freedom and teachings on being a good citizen. So whilst we can certainly relate to the ancient origins, the later ones are rooted in our own culture's somewhat shady history of colonisation and the defeat of the British during the revolutionary war. But... you know... it was a long time ago so... um... Happy Thanksgiving!
Usually, at this time of year, we'd be looking ahead to Christmas, but here, Thanksgiving comes first and demands all the attention. Shops have been full of Thanksgiving themed cards and decorations for the home, but I've decided to approach today as more of a dummy-run for Christmas - a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, minus a few dubious extras that I just can't bring myself to include! My Thanksgiving table therefore lacks an ornate harvest-themed centre-piece and it definitely won't be featuring mashed sweet potato adorned with marshmallows - but it will include some British home comforts such as Yorkshire puddings, (courtesy of Aunt Bessie's fool-proof packet mix which arrived in my Mother-in Law's suitcase) and Paxo stuffing!
Much of today's activity so far has been focused on the new roasting oven we bought (the result of yet another impulse buy during a 'quick' trip to Costco!) and whether or not the turkey will be too dry/under-done/crispy/moist etc. so no real change there! Luckily, I'm only cooking for five, so worst case scenario, we can always pour a load of imported Bisto over it.
As usual, there's always something that gets forgotten. Thankfully, last night's late dash to the local supermarket to get cranberry sauce was successful, but nevertheless, I haven't been able to shake the feeling that there's been something missing all day. And of course, there is. Thanksgiving is a time for family, and since we're missing Son#1, try as we might, our celebrations will fall just a bit flat. That said, we can still give thanks for all that's happened over this last year and remember those far less fortunate than ourselves. So for today, we had to make do with Face-time calls and comfort ourselves with the fact that in just 29 days we'll be reunited with our boy and see many of the friends and family we've missed so much.
So for this Brit, the jury is still out on Thanksgiving - no doubt we'll stuff our faces before falling into the usual post-dinner food coma followed by the obligatory family film and maybe a game of cards or two. Looking ahead, I like the idea of having a day of gratitude, a day to acknowledge and be thankful for all that we have been blessed with - that's definitely something that should stick... unlike the mashed sweet potatoes and marshmallows!
Late edit: The turkey wasn't quite done (OK, maybe we didn't read ALL of the instructions on the new oven!) so we had to circle in a holding pattern for a bit, whilst it caught up. Apologies to Husband for also forgetting to buy red wine. In-Laws both currently snoring through Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. Son #2 happily polished off ALL of the stuffing. I'm now off to put my pajamas on!