When I was growing up in Yorkshire, the holiday season always centered upon Christmas and Boxing Day with New Year’s Eve thrown in for good measure. Certainly I had heard of Thanksgiving in America. And the concept for such a holiday sounded rather pleasant, even festive. However, until I married an American and moved to New York to experience it myself, this fabled holiday was nothing I could ever have imagined.
What separates Thanksgiving from the rest of the holiday season is the absolute sincerity of the day. Unlike the commercialism of the modern-day Christmas, Thanksgiving is about families, friends and a celebration of a way of life. Sure, Thanksgiving has the Macy’s Parade and marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. But it possesses a warmth and homely quality that holds strong appeal to an English woman at heart.
To begin with, much of the holiday revolves around the kitchen. For days, if not weeks prior to the big day, families start preparing for the year’s most elaborate feast. From essentials such as the traditional turkey and cranberry sauce, down to the desserts, the mere planning of the menu can make one’s mouth water and the stomach growl with anticipation.
For a personal English touch to the festivities, I’ve come to add a bit of my favorites to the menu, such as a warm Yorkshire pudding as a first course and stewed apples with the turkey. No doubt, all who have blended into the great melting pot add a bit of international flavor to the time-honored American customs, which only underscores the motive behind the celebration.
Then there is the guest list. Choosing the names who will share your Thanksgiving table is akin to making a personal who’s who list of the most treasured people in your life. Whether it be friends – old or new, close family – or extended, no Turkey-day table is complete without those most cherished.
And finally, as we gather round our lavish tables to enjoy the banquet, there is the simple, eloquent reason as to why we celebrate. Raising a glass, we toast to our freedom, our history and our way of life. We give thanks for all that is good in our lives. And we offer appreciation for our ability to enjoy our blessings in light of all that is going on in the crazy world around us.
For me, Thanksgiving has become my favorite day on the American calendar.
Wishing a happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.