What Happened to Thanksgiving?



A few days ago I wrote that November has always been a special month for me.

Yet since I live in the US, this is definitely Thanksgiving that makes November so special. France doesn’t have the equivalent of Thanksgiving, so I will write a post in French for my French friends, as we get closer to the holiday. Promise!

But this one is for my fellow Americans who are the reason why I love this big, often overwhelmingly big, and beautiful, often achingly beautiful, country.

Sounds too cliché and sentimental?

Most immigrants I’ve met are either over critical or over enamored with their native land.

Let’s say that I love much more about the US than I dislike.

People make a country.

Celebrations and traditions help too.

Thanksgiving, in my opinion, is one of the celebrations that have the power to unite people, regardless of their differences.

Although my kids taught me all there is to know about Thanksgiving, I’m not exactly sure what kind of food the Pilgrims and Native Americans really ate and if their first Thanksgiving was as bountiful as ours usually are.



I’m sure, though, that any food and conversation shared with others make us better people.

That’s why I like Thanksgiving.

Observing and mimicking are crucial to new immigrants.

When I arrived in the States – not on a boat but with one suitcase – I immediately embraced Thanksgiving, inviting soon anyone who had no plans around our small table. Years later with four college kids we don’t always invite more guests. Yet I still remember of my very first Thanksgiving dinner when I searched for ingredients that sounded so exotic to my French taste and customs and when I did my best to imitate the American way.

I also remember that everything was closed that day. That came to a surprise in a country that initially surprised me by running business round the clock.
Tucked between Halloween and the holiday season, Thanksgiving was a well-deserved and well-needed break in the busy American schedules.

But over the last few years I’ve noticed a trend that I don’t like. What happened to Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is no longer gently tucked between Halloween and the holiday season but squeezed as an afterthought between those big materialistic celebrations.

Since there is nothing but food to buy for Thanksgiving, someone(s) got the idea to transform that day into a shopping frenzy.

So now Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving. Not only online but also in brick and mortar stores.

Although I’ve tried lots of American things in order to understand my new home, I’ve never stood in line on Black Friday and I suspect that I won’t ever, now that the Shop Until You Drop fury starts on Thanksgiving.

Don’t you think that a nation benefits from a yearly collective pause? Sharing food, conversation, and maybe a before dinner walk to remember that the best in life is never stuff bought on sale matters more than it looks. Maybe we forgot that Thanksgiving is what makes the USA so unique in comparison to the rest of the world. We should keep this in mind, as more shocking videos of people fighting over a new phone or trendy clothes are posted all over the Internet. We are so much better than Buy One Get One Free.

More than the Thanksgiving typical food that I instinctively loved – still very French here – on this day I feel part of our big country since I know that everyone is sitting around a table at approximatively the same time, eating the same kind of food.

Still sounds too cliché and sentimental? Maybe. But I still ask you:

Can we keep Thanksgiving a day free of work and shopping? Please? If we shop on a day that’s supposed to be a holiday, then we shouldn’t forget about the people who work away from their family and friends in order to serve us. Was this mega sale a matter of death and life?

As I was brainstorming my 2014 Thanksgiving post I got a notification from Mrs. Fringe’s blog. She writes about living in New York City, about writing, and about life in general. Her latest post echoes some of my thoughts, so I asked her if I could link to her post from mine. Don’t miss her personal take on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

May Your Thanksgiving Be a Beautiful Day Shared with Loved Ones!




P.S. In my new novel Chronicles From Château Moines Scott is also discovering new traditions as he’s missing some familiar American holidays. Foreigners adapt better to their new country through celebrations and rituals that include everyone.






  1. Reblogged this on Ideas in My Jar and commented:
    Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful.

  2. Great post, great idea and great reasons. It remains work and shopping free for me and mine, but the signs are distressing. There’s at least one local mall that is trying to force every store to open early on Thanksgiving. As Sandy adds, it’s a time to be thankful. I refuse to even shop on Black Friday. The savings isn’t worth dealing with humanity en mass, often at its worst behavior. I may even skip watching football this year as none of my teams are playing. I will likely take on my daughter in a game of Monopoly – that’s as close to commerce as I will come.

  3. “Thanksgiving is no longer gently tucked between Halloween and the holiday season but squeezed as an afterthought between those big materialistic celebrations.” This fact depresses me tremedously, Evelyne. I, too, love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite of the holidays and I know it’s a time when every dysfunction known to man might be in one place, at one time, but isn’t that the beauty of family? We’re all crazy. And this holiday celebrates, in fact revels, in that insanity. I, for one, refuse to let it become lost in the shuffle if for nothing else, that as you so eloquently stated, every so often we all need a “collective pause.”


    • Really like your input. You’re right that Thanksgiving can also be a little crazy since families are never perfect. But the fact that we can be under the same roof, cooking and eating together remains truly a great event. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  4. I have never gone shopping on Thanksgiving or “Black Friday.” I wouldn’t because to me, shopping on a holiday negates the point of it being a holiday … and why go and fight crowds when you can shop anytime at your convenience?

    I think families are less inclined to sit together and dine as a group than they used to be. I remember when — not all that long ago — Thanksgiving was THE holiday, the biggest travel day of the year when by hook or crook, everyone wanted to be home for the holiday. But something has changed … recently. And I’m not sure why.

    • Thanks, Marilyn, for your input. I agree with your first paragraph. Shopping on a holiday denies the purpose of a holiday.
      In your second paragraph you approach a significant cultural difference between France and the US. Sharing a meal at the table is very French and less American. Many kids who came home were surprised to see that we always ate together, seated at the table.
      Thanksgiving was the day when most did. So if we start shopping instead of eating together, I wonder too what’s next. Happy Thanksgiving to you, to Garry and your family!

  5. I love those words, ‘collective pause.’ You are so right about Thanksgiving and the dwindling time that is spent on the holiday. Personally, I don’t shop on that or the next day. A couple of years ago my son worked retail and had to go in on Thanksgiving evening. Thankfully, he’s out of retail. This is a time for family and friends so it’s up to each family to set aside the time, continue and model for their future generations.

    • I’m not too surprised to read your comment, Mona. Following your blog for quite a while now I’ve always liked how family time matters to you. Shopping on Thanksgiving means having people working too. So I’m glad that your son, at least, isn’t working that day. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  6. Behind the Story says:

    The marketing makes it seem that “everyone” goes shopping on Black Friday, but I bet a statistician could tell us that it’s just a small minority. I don’t pay attention to the hype. This year we’re going to stay in a cabin on Whidbey Is. on “Black Friday” and Saturday, do a little hiking if it’s warm enough, if not, sit around a fire and play games.

    Another nice tradition on Thanksgiving is providing big dinners for the needy. Last year our church delivered 600 dinners. (It’s a nice tradition, but it’s sad to think that that many people need help.)

    • I agree that a minority can be very vocal and make it seem like everything has changed. Keeping some family traditions is cool. We also have a few similar to yours, Nicki. When my kids were home we also prepared bags of food for local pantries. And yes, this is a great thing to do as it reminds us that a lot has still to be done to make sure everyone gets enough to eat. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  7. Great post, Evelyne. And I couldn’t agree more. I always loved Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday not tied to a religion, or one that is overly commercial. It’s simply a time to share a traditional meal with family and friends, and to do something we do far too rarely – give thanks for all we have. I hate Black Friday, and the emphasis on spending wildly, one of the things I dislike about my counytry. And I hate that poor workers are now forced to give up their own family dinners to fuel consumer spending on Thanksgiving Day. A very happy – and non-commercial- Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    • Thank you, Kimberly. I love Thanksgiving for exactly the same reasons. For the immigrant I am this is the best celebration, since the goal is to unite us and make us appreciative of what we have. I am uncomfortable to see that people can be pushed to accept extra jobs on Thanksgiving because they have to. I’ve also met some people who don’t like the fact that they have to eat a lot. It makes me smile because I like having several different dishes but I never felt obliged to overeat! Do you celebrate in Italy with your family? In any case I’m sure you’ll think of us in the States, so Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

      • Yes, Evelyne. I do celebrate here. Not on the actual day, since it’s a regular workday for me. But I find a Saturday or Sunday and we invite Italian friends. They always enjoy the Thanksgiving feast, since it’s so different from Italian cuisine. Fun to ‘introduce’ this tradition to the Italian peninsula… and to hear them say, albeit under their breaths, that maybe American food isn’t as awful as they’d always assumed. As a Frenchwoman, I’m sure you’ll understand…: )

  8. People make the country… You’re so right! It is thanks to all the amazing people who make us feel so welcomed that we can settle happily in our new countries.

  9. Well done Evelyne! And thank you! First you reminded us of the beauty and joy of a day dedicated to gratitude. Then you said what is on the minds of many. I only disagree on one point — Halloween (my favorite) is gone along with Thanksgiving…
    “Christmas” begins in September, obliterating Halloween and Thanksgiving. Then there is the Black Friday Holiday — which is celebrated rather than either of the above. Followed by “Christmas” and then the “Day of Returning Gifts” holiday on the 26th.
    Maybe people will embrace Thanksgiving again if we rename it — the Pre-Black Friday Feast Holiday. 😈
    Huge hugs.

    • Thank you, Teagan, for another visit. I never noticed a change for Halloween. Maybe in some areas of the country where it became a fall celebration, mostly for religious reasons. Recently someone told me that November is called Black November because the sales start with Veteran’s Day. Another strange thing for me was to see people regifting or exchanging their gifts for others or for cash. I like your humor about the whole craziness. Maybe if enough of us stay away from the shopping part, Thanksgiving will remain a day off with good food, company, and gratitude for all that. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  10. Well done, Evelyne, a wake-up call. It’s become startling to replace a common day of rest and thankfulness with family and friends for a day(s) of shopping frenzy and insanity. I’m afraid I don’t get it — thankfully.

  11. Love this phrase, “a yearly collective pause.” You already know we’re in agreement, so I’ll just say well done! And thank you for the link 🙂

    ~Mrs F

  12. Yes, Evelyne the best holiday of all is or has gotten lost from it’s origins – I agree with you. True meaning of “Thankful” it’s a big word, and today is missing more and more from our normal routines. We don’t shop on Thanksgiving, we remain with good old-fashion traditions – hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family.

    • I’m glad that you share the same feeling, Mary. It’s great to see that at least some of us are in favor of sharing a meal with people we like instead of hitting the mall. I really love living in the States and again a day like Thanksgiving, away from religion and materialistic things, is the best celebration ever. So Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  13. I hear what you’re saying, Evelyne. Nowadays, I feel like there isn’t even any Thanksgiving decorations in the stores. It goes straight from Halloween to winter displays. Anyway, thanks for pausing and enjoying this American holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Your post resonates deeply with me Evelyne as you know, with Thanksgiving being a holiday I embraced when I lived in the States, also learning from my children about a holiday I didn’t grow up with in England. But I am so saddened to read that Black Friday has now become Black Thursday. Here, Christmas Day is still a day to be honoured with family and friends, sharing our collective meal and celebrations as a nation and a time to pause from the grind of daily life. But Boxing Day, the day after Christmas Day, used to be a family day too, and although still a national holiday and a time for many to gather with relatives, the shops are open at the crack of dawn for the crazy invasion of shoppers to grab what they can in the sales. Me? I don’t go near the shops until after New Year’s (except for the local shop for bare necessities). Yes, it means a lot of shopping and stocking up beforehand but it is well worth it. I can’t stand the thought of our national holidays becoming nothing better than opportunities for people to feed their need for more ‘stuff’. So instead, I wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving, which I’m sure you will enjoy in the very traditional sense from both sides of the shining sea 🙂

    • I figure that your Boxinx Day must be our Black Friday. Again, I like shopping as much as anyone else but I think there is a time for everything. Thanksgiving is just for one day and being with people we love and sharing a meal and conversation and also gratitude for that is important to me. I’m glad to read that others think the same way. I know how you feel about us being from abroad and learning about our new country through celebrations. So thank you again for your visit and comment, Sherri. See you soon.


  1. […] in awhile a fellow blogger will poke a poem out of me. Thanks Evelyne, I feel a little better […]

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