So today is Thanksgiving. Not a holiday that I’ve ever had cause to celebrate before but it’s one of the biggest days in the American calendar. I asked some of our friendly neighbours what it’s all about and why they celebrate it, but they weren’t really sure other than it just being an excuse to overeat. So I consulted everyone’s favourite know-it-all, T’Internet. Apparently Thanksgiving actually grew out of an old English tradition that was brought over by the Pilgrims (so it’s our fault then). Allegedly Guy Fawkes Night grew out of a celebration of giving thanks after the failure of the Gunpowder Plot. I think I prefer the fireworks to having yet another day of turkey and bad TV. Anyway, it’s all meant to be about giving thanks for a good harvest and generally taking some time to be grateful for anything and everything. Or something like that. (You don’t tune into these updates for in-depth research and historical accuracy do you?)
One of the ongoing traditions for Thanksgiving is the Macy’s Parade in New York. There are several others held in cities across the nation but the Macy’s one seems to be the major event. The TV coverage lasts for three hours and it was entertaining enough to have on in the background while I slaved over a hot stove preparing our lunchtime feast. It basically consists of three miles of floats, gigantic balloons, cheerleaders and a host of famous faces all singing and dancing for your delight/their lunch. I understand that most people tune in on the off chance of catching sight of a massive inflatable Sonic the Hedgehog breaking free and wreaking havoc over Central Park. The opportunity to see the performance of numbers from some of the newer musicals is also quite nice though. Bit of a blast from the past as the balloons included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary apparently. How have they managed to last so long? The parade ends with the appearance of Santa Claus, at which point the Christmas season is officially declared to have started. Which explains why several of my neighbours have put up their Christmas trees and other decorations today.
It’s traditional to have turkey for Thanksgiving, but not in the form we would recognise it in the UK. People have special turkey fryers as the turkey is deep fried. Yes really. The advantage would seem to be that it only takes about an hour rather than roasting it for most of the day. The fryer, being essentially a large vat of boiling hot oil, is sensibly situated outside, and I have seen a good few people sitting out on their driveways this morning supervising the proceedings. This is another one of those things that shows our differences, basically because it would never be warm enough in the UK to sit outside at this time of year.
We went to an early Thanksgiving dinner a week ago and along with the turkey and the honey glazed ham we were treated to all the side dishes. Green bean casserole appears to be a staple, along with mashed potato (where are the roasties? No roasting bird means nowhere to do the spuds I suppose). The strangest side dish was the yams roasted with marshmallows. It looked and sounded a little weird but because of the sweetness of the yams it actually worked really well.
So I cooked us our own Thanksgiving meal today but I seem to have broken all the rules. Quorn Roast instead of turkey (and majorly pleased that I could buy one out here), roast potatoes (because you cannot have any other kind of potato, COME ON!!), normal vegetables (no strange accompaniments here) and of course Yorkshire Puddings !! I’m aware that they would probably be just as strange to an American as the yam and marshmallow thing is to us, so I will say nothing more. Except that the Yorkshire Pudding would always win in a fight. Hands down.
This afternoon I plan to anchor myself to the sofa and watch a few films. This is, after all, our practice run for Christmas. It seems a little odd to have today’s celebrations only a month before Christmas, but then Americans don’t really go in for Christmas as much. I was trying to explain to someone recently the concept of Boxing Day and the fact that a lot of offices in the UK will shut for a whole week between Christmas and New Year, and they looked at me like I had two heads. Thanksgiving is definitely the bigger holiday in the USA. A lot of people will have tomorrow off work as well and therefore have a four day weekend. Which brings us to the other major event of this holiday – the Sales. Very much like our Boxing Day sales but with added violence, pepper spray and a baseball bat, allegedly. Traditionally the sales used to start at about 10am on Black Friday, then it got progressively earlier with shops opening at 6am. Last year some stores started opening at 8pm on Thanksgiving night, with a few more joining in the fun this year. If you desperately want some slightly out of date electronics at a cheaper price that still might not be as cheap as buying it online and you have 24 hours or more to spare and a very strong bladder, then you may very well wish to join the hordes queuing outside the stores and waiting to stampede through the doors when they open. Otherwise, do as I am doing and don’t bother.
In keeping with tradition, however, I will be having an afternoon nap and then putting up the Christmas decorations. Just feel that there should be a festive Dr Who in here somewhere. Happy Thanksgiving y’all!