It’s that time of year– let the holiday family, fun, cooking, and traveling begin! I always look forward to the holidays for several reasons, one of which is time spent with family. Another is time spent with friends. Every holiday break, my college girlfriends and I meet for brunch to catch up. It is particularly special as it is one of the few times of the year that we are able to see a friend who grew up in Michigan and is currently living in England with her husband and children. She also spent three years in Norway. She and her family typically come home at Christmastime and in the summer for a few weeks. Meet Katie. I’m embarrassed that this is my first time asking these questions but am excited that she agreed to let me share her insights with you…
What are your favorite memories/things about Thanksgiving in the US?
I have always enjoyed helping my mom prepare the meal. Something as simple as pealing potatoes seems special on Thanksgiving! The parade, the Lions football game, making decorations for the table and playing board games also stand out in my mind from childhood all the way through adulthood. We have also enjoyed taking part in a community race on Thanksgiving morning such as the Turkey Trot.
How many Thanksgivings have you spent abroad and where?
I have spent two Thanksgivings in England and three in Norway.
What are your favorite memories/ things about celebrating Thanksgiving abroad?
I will always remember trying to fit the turkey in the refrigerator! Our fridge is a lot smaller in England and was also small in Norway – so it is a big challenge!
We usually celebrate the weekend after Thanksgiving. We let the kids watch a recording of the parade. We watch football. We eat a lot! We share with friends. We try to make our celebration special and focus on being thankful.
What differences have you noticed? / Are there any foods/supplies for a traditional Thanksgiving that are difficult to find when living abroad?
We are very lucky that Christmas and Thanksgiving are very close together because both Norway and England stock a lot of turkeys in their stores by the end of November in anticipation of Christmas. If Thanksgiving were not so close to Christmas it would be a lot more challenging to purchase a turkey! Canned pumpkin is something you have to search for in the “American” section of the supermarket (right next to peanut butter cups and jerky!) Nothing seems to turn out the way it tastes “at home” but most dishes can be achieved!
Have you had any “Friendsgivings” while abroad? And/or, have you provided any information about a traditional US Thanksgiving at work/kids’ schools/etc.?
We have often spent Thanksgiving with other Americans abroad or people who have some kind of American connection… it might be a family we met who has lived in the states at some point or someone who has a relative who still does live in the states. We usually celebrate on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but my husband has also gone out for a “roast lunch” with friends from work on Thanksgiving.
I have also really enjoyed going to my children’s schools to share about Thanksgiving. The kids are fascinated by our American holiday. They like to hear about the pilgrims and the Native American as well as learn about the things we do to celebrate today. I have even shared pumpkin pie with kids at school, which is not very popular in England!
I have found it very interesting that Black Friday is very popular in both Norway and England. Sales and special offers are advertised as black Friday deals. It is not as widely popular as it is in the states but it is catching on.
What do you look forward to the most when thinking about celebrating Thanksgiving back in the states next year?