Pilgrims, Native Americans… and microwaveable stuffing?

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“What is Thanksgiving, really?” My flat mate asked me with curiosity recently. “I mean I know it’s a day when people get together to celebrate and eat loads of food, but… why?” As an American studying abroad in the United Kingdom, I have found that many British people seem curious about the concept of Thanksgiving. Relying on my rather shaky knowledge of American history, I started explaining that it all started when the English Settlers and the Native Americans all sat down together to an enormous feast together after a good harvest. To me, however, Thanksgiving is that one glorious day where you are expected to eat as much roast turkey, cranberry sauce and apple pie as humanly possible. It is a celebration that challenges the assumption (which is false by the way) that it is impossible to gain an entire stone in one sitting. Yet, most importantly, it is a day of gratitude, for appreciating time spent with family and friends. Not to mention the deliciousness of home-baked apple strudel!

I’m going to be completely honest here. I can barely cook a chicken breast, never mind a full Thanksgiving roast. Yet this year, for the first time in my life, I am going to attempt to create an entire Thanksgiving meal on my own. No small feat for someone who just last week managed to burn scrambled eggs so badly that they were completely unrecognisable. My flat mates tell me that they’re unsure of how I’m going to even find a Turkey, never mind cook it. Convinced that they’re just jealous of my culinary abilities, I proclaimed that I would provide a Thanksgiving feast for the entire flat. The one thing that I told them I could not promise is that they would not get food poisoning.

The truth is, however, that Thanksgiving isn’t really about cooking an enormous roast. Or competing with family members to see who can consume the largest amount of said roast. (Although the challenge is quite tempting.) Thanksgiving is a celebration devoted to spending time with the people that you love, a time to be grateful for your friends and family. And though I am far away from friends and family back home, I have found my own family of sorts at university. For which I am very grateful. Despite the fact that, at this Thanksgiving, I won’t be able to have any of mom’s delicious cranberry sauce, or enjoy the chocolaty goodness of my grandpa’s legendary cakes, I find that somehow I’m okay with that. I have a feeling that I may find myself eating a packaged Turkey sandwich after dousing a flaming Turkey with water. And that I may be eating cranberry sauce straight out of the tin. That is supposing, of course, that canned cranberries are as popular across the pond as back home. Might just have to break out the mincemeat pie!

Whatever I find myself eating this Thanksgiving, the important thing is that I will spending it with some truly great friends. Who will hopefully not become ill from e-coli after eating the meal that I have prepared. Though I kid, the truth is that I will be perfectly content eating deli meat this Thanksgiving. How can you even think about a traditional roast when you’re feasting on microwaveable stuffing?

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