> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: What is Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What is Thanksgiving?


I’ve been looking forward to my first US Thanksgiving for quite some time - admittedly because I get two-and-a-half days off school… However this week my speech class have been regaling me with their definitions of this truly American holiday. In amongst the clichés you can discern a genuine fondness for the rituals and routines…and a touchingly gruff and bashful belief that it is a time to ‘be grateful for what you’ve got’. How does it compare with Christmas? ‘Much better’ was the general consensus.

Inspired by my foreigner-type enquiries, another non American student asked permission to put some questions which had obviously been bothering him. What were cranberries? Were sweet potatoes regular potatoes with sugar? Did everyone sit at the same table? Could you eat anything other than turkey? The rush to educate him was very gratifying.

The mood turned a little sour when he asked, ‘What is stuffing?’ because it became very clear that the Americans have exceptionally strong views on the actual sourcing, ingredients, weight and cooking methods of the aforementioned substance. I had to physically separate two normally somnabulent football players who were personally aggrieved at the disparate approaches favoured by their families.

In an attempt to change the subject I asked about the vegetarian experience of Thanksgiving. Big mistake. I had to reassure them that I was simply asking, and not actually a vegetarian myself, just a foreigner.

We pondered the issue in silence for a moment. A vegetarian Thanksgiving hadn’t been considered. A few timid girls admitted knowing some vegetarians but they weren’t sure what they did at Thanksgiving. ‘What did they get for dessert?’ asked my fellow foreigner. Then it was ‘pumpkin pie’ versus ‘pecan pie’ until the welcome relief of the bell.
‘We will continue this tomorrow,’ I said to disperse the rabid pumpkinites, privately planning to have tomorrow sewn up in a very different direction.

7 comments:

N Winton said...

I think I've always thought of Thanksgiving as a dry run for Christmas so it's interesting to hear your classes say it is "Much better"...

Quick question: Do they exchange gifts at Thanksgiving, and is there any sense of irony in giving thanks to a people who must surely regret ever being nice to the early settlers...

Good to hear from you again! Take care...

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

Neil - they don't exchange gifts. The kids quoted this as one of the reasons people prefer it! Found that hard to believe but it was certainly said regularly. Just in case I thought materialism was on the wane here -they explained that the day after Thanksgiving is the first day of the Christmas shopping and absolutely crazy. Stores opening from 4am. Sort of January sales? Think I will pass on that one.
Haven't heard much about the 'original' thanksgiving ;)

Jemma said...

Fighting over stuffing? That's refreshing to know! Though I must admit I thought the same as your fellow foreign student with reference to the sweet potatoes for a while...

:) Do you get holidays off school for Thanksgiving, just like Christmas?

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

Yes we do - we get a whole 2 days off! Very useful. I really missed having an October week or 2 weeks!

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

Yes we do - we get a whole 2 days off! Very useful. I really missed having an October week or 2 weeks!

Jemma said...

Hah, I just noticed that I totally missed the first sentence of this post.. I do apologise for the stupidness of my earlier question. :)

[/stupid]

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

That's okay Jemma -look I posted the same comment twice... Absent minded is good :)