Thanksgiving. An American tradition that I’m sure anyone who’s seen any American TV series will have knowledge of. Being a fan of many American TV and film productions, I was aware of this annual national holiday and curious as to what attending a Thanksgiving dinner would be like and if it matched the hype that is displayed in Hollywood productions.
As you may be aware, 2011 was the year that I spent abroad. Travelling the world, experiencing new things and learning what I could before knuckling down at University. I spent two months of 2011 travelling around North America, visiting new places and revisiting old friends. Luckily for me, my timing of this trip coincided with Thanksgiving – even more so exciting was the fact that I would be in Chinook, MT (aka Home #2/Home-away-from-home) for a couple of weeks either side of the holiday!
Whilst travelling around the States in the weeks prior to Thanksgiving, I didn’t notice anything too out of the ordinary. Until, what literally felt like overnight, every town I visited seemed to be decked out in warm coloured decorations, pictures of turkeys were everywhere and everything consumable became pumpkin flavoured! I was in New York City at the time and I can remember my friend telling me it was a shame that I’d be missing out on the famous NYC Thanksgiving Parade.
I arrived in Montana only a few days before Thanksgiving and was given the lowdown on what to expect at the big family lunch that would take place at the family Ranch. I asked eagerly about what foods there’d be, and much to my delight, everything I’d been hoping for would be there for me to try!
Wanting to participate in the preparation and bring a little bit of Australia to the menu, I asked if I could add to the dessert menu. Their response was an excitable YES! I decided to make lamingtons – both chocolate and strawberry ones. Everyone was excited to try the famous Australian delicacy and although my recreation ended with the lamingtons looking like spongy blobs of cake covered in icing and coconut (I learnt that lamingtons are incredibly hard to make!), they were all devoured in a matter of minutes.
When it came to the actual celebration of Thanksgiving, I was surprised in that I had no idea what to expect. I first noticed the huge amount of food (!!!!) and the state of panic in the kitchen. When the prized Turkey was finished cooking, we all stood around the island in the kitchen and held hands as someone said grace, then it was straight to loading up our plates with as much food as possible and taking it to the table where everyone happily chatted and watched the football.
In case you were wondering, the food was amazing! The Turkey and homemade cranberry sauce was delicious, the pumpkin pie didn’t taste like pumpkin, but rather cinnamon. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the rum and eggnog that was placed in front of me. It must have been known that I wouldn’t like eggnog, as when I went to take my first sip, everyone stopped at watched (just like how we love to watch people try vegemite for the first time in Australia) and laughed as I choked on the grotesque flavour and poured more alcohol into the mix.
The afternoon was spent in a somewhat comatose state in front of the TV as the football played. Almost everyone there tried explaining to me how NFL works, much to everyone’s dismay I just didn’t get it – those shoulder pads are just too distracting!
Overall, my experience with Thanksgiving was good fun. I’ve been abroad for many national celebrations all over the world; there’s nothing quite like experiencing something that is so special to a nation with locals.
I hope all of my American readers and friends have a happy and safe Thanksgiving this year. Have some pie for me!