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.