exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

an american turkeyday in london

by Jen at 5:37 pm on 26.11.2008 | 4 Comments
filed under: holidaze, londonlife, mutterings and musings

this must be the newest stage of expatting. the stage where you stop trying to replicate what you’d do at home (and never really coming close enough to satisfy anyway) and just do something completely different instead.

tomorrow is thanksgiving in the states. brits here have a hard time comprehending the importance of this holiday, but it’s one of my favourites because it remains relatively “pure” – family, friends and food. it’s not yet been turned into an obligatory gift-giving occasion, or wholly commercial enterprise. and while the roots do, of course, harken back to a time when we mistreated and exploited the people and land that were here first (and in many ways still do), the theme of the holiday itself is about gratitude for what we have in our present day lives.

we cannot change the past, nor predict the future – but here and now, on this one day, if we have people in our lives that we love, and enough food to fill our bellies for this meal, then that is something to be grateful for. if you believe in a god, then you give thanks to that god. if you believe in mother earth, then you give thanks to her. if you simply believe in family and friends, then you give thanks to them for their presence in your life.

nothing more is required – a meal shared with loved ones, and thanks. so simple, yet so profound. it’s that which i love most about thanksgiving, but is so difficult to communicate to those that haven’t grown up with it.

each year here so far, i have been lucky enough to have fellow americans join me in my celebration. people who “get it”, who understand the emotion that thanksgiving conveys, and how difficult it is to be far away on a day when others are drawing near. and there’s a shared acknowledgement that while we try to recreate the holiday in our own way as best we can, we also know that it is never going to be quite right, simply because we are here… and so many of our loved ones are there. people back in the u.s. are coming together, and we are far away.

this year, through a variety of circumstances, the thanksgiving meal with fellow americans just isn’t going to happen. i thought about moving the date around, or trying to change the venue… but in the end, i decided to stop trying to put a square peg into a round hole. it’s never going to be right, because it’s just not right. i’m here, and they are there. it’s an american holiday, and i live in the u.k.

so we’re going out. to an american themed restaurant, that promises turkey and pumpkin pie and football and sam adams beer.

i used to think that going to a restaurant for t-day was sacrilege. but i think i’ve finally come to the realisation that no matter how i juggle the turkey and side dishes in a teeny british oven, no matter how i search out the traditional tinned pumpkin and cranberries and stovetop stuffing, no matter how many americans i gather together to celebrate with, no matter how hard i try to make everything the same as it would be back home, thanksgiving will never be the same, because it’s different here. my life is different here. and somehow this year it seems fitting to finally embrace that by doing something different. maybe i should be depressed about that, but somehow, i find myself relieved – like i’ve finally given myself permission to be okay with it all.

so i’ll be sitting in bodean’s tomorrow evening, with loved ones, a meal, and thanks.

in the true spirit of the holiday, nothing else is required.



  • 1

    Comment by Charlotte

    26.11.2008 @ 20:59 pm

    Hope you have a great Thanksgiving. I’ve always like the concept of this holiday, of just saying thank you. I have my first T’giving invitation this year – to a party which will be given by Americans but attended by a mishmash of nationalities. I am looking forward to it!

  • 2

    Comment by amity

    27.11.2008 @ 13:47 pm

    i’ll miss seeing you this year, after spending the last two thanksgivings together, but i agree with what you’ve said here. i too am kind of relieved to take a break from trying to recreate something that can never be truly recreated here. maybe next year i’ll feel diffrently but for now that’s what i have to work with and it’s what i’m focusing on to see me through.

  • 3

    Comment by Jen

    27.11.2008 @ 16:24 pm

    a – missing you this year as well! you and your family have so much new to be thankful for this year )

    charlotte – it’s a wonderful holiday, hope you enjoy!

  • 4

    Pingback by Jen’s Den of Iniquity » because i’m nothing if not helpful

    4.12.2008 @ 18:15 pm

    [...] is fast approaching.  in keeping with this newfound freedom to do something different, we’re going to morocco for the holiday with some friends of [...]

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