Author Topic: Thanksgiving  (Read 2022 times)

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Offline Blossom

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Thanksgiving
« on: August 29, 2017, 10:49:47 AM »
Hubby American, I'm British.

Any clues as to what to do for Thanksgiving?  Do you decorate the house?  Do you invite people?  Do you give presents?

Food wise hubby is an excellent cook.  He has made pumpkin pie for me before and it was fabulous.  I know we can get tins of pumpkin from Amazon.

What is the difference between Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Dinner?

We have not been living in the UK, or in the USA, and he often worked shifts and so Thanksgiving is still a bit of a mystery to me.

Any help on this would be appreciated.



Offline jfkimberly

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2017, 11:33:37 AM »
Hubby American, I'm British.

Any clues as to what to do for Thanksgiving?  Do you decorate the house?  Do you invite people?  Do you give presents?

Food wise hubby is an excellent cook.  He has made pumpkin pie for me before and it was fabulous.  I know we can get tins of pumpkin from Amazon.

What is the difference between Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Dinner?

We have not been living in the UK, or in the USA, and he often worked shifts and so Thanksgiving is still a bit of a mystery to me.

Any help on this would be appreciated.

USC wife here.  I'll start a list below of traditional Thanksgiving menu items, and others may add to it, as there could be slight regional differences and preferences.  It's not a healthy meal.

It is customary to invite extended family to yours, or you might go to theirs.  Thanksgiving as a "holiday" is really a time to get together with the people who are close to you and celebrate your blessings.  Going back to a less cynical time (about 30 years ago), people would actually state what they were thankful for.  I don't know if other people still do that.  My family don't.  No gifts are exchanged.

If you don't have extended family, or you don't want to get together with them, you can alternatively invite other "Thanksgiving orphans" around... single friends who don't have anywhere else to go, so you can assemble a make-shift family for the day.  Or if someone invites the two of you to theirs, and you don't have any other plans, you could go to that.

And, of course, you don't have to spend it with others, at all.  But if you do host, you'll be expected to serve the main bits, and guests will offer to bring additional food.  If you're invited to someone else's, you'll want to at least offer to bring something.

Also occurring on Thanksgiving is American football... In more sports-minded households, there's American football showing in one room, and food going on in the kitchen, and the dining table is all set up for the big meal, and there might be another room where non-football-fans can sit around and talk.

You wouldn't decorate the house, really, but some people do like to do a nice table setting and Thanksgiving-themed centerpieces and stuff.  It all depends on how elaborate you want to go with it.  You can't go wrong with Autumnal colours (reds, yellows, oranges), and pumpkins.

Christmas dinner could traditionally be either a roast turkey or a large ham.  If you do turkey for Christmas, you would have many of the main sides as for Thanksgiving (though pumpkin pie is, to my mind, a strictly Thanksgiving thing... I like apple pie at Christmas), but for me, Christmas has always been a more intimate gathering, and a smaller meal... for Thanksgiving, you can go casual and have a big festive group with friends if you want.  But for Christmas, you would only have your own family, and your closest friends (especially friends who don't have any family).

Food!:

* Turkey... you'll want a bird that is 1 pound per person in size, roughly.  So if you're expecting a total of 20 people at your dinner, you want a 20 pound bird.

* Stuffing... I have nothing to say about stuffing because I don't like it.  But it's VERY popular, and everybody else devours it.  Ask around if you want to make your own, or just buy a box kit.

* Cranberry sauce

* Mashed potatoes

* Gravy ... to my mind, the absolute most important thing.  Gravy brings the meal together.

* Sweet potatoes/candied yams... I don't like these, either, but they're another very popular dish.  Again, find out about this if you're unfamiliar.

* Green beans, or "green bean casserole"... welcome to America.

* Pumpkin pie... have whipped cream available

Soft dinner rolls
Various other veg and sides

I'm sure other comments will help round this out more.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention one important detail: Thanksgiving dinner is a meal of excess.  You're expect to have leftovers, and you might offer to wrap up portions for people to take home with them at the end (especially because it's hard to fit it into the 'fridge, so you want to share that burden!).  If anybody you invited couldn't make it because they were unwell or had to work, but their spouse or child came without them, you would prepare a plate for them and have their family member take it home to them.  Or at least send a piece of pie to them.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 11:40:54 AM by jfkimberly »
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Offline x0Kiss0fDeath

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2017, 01:25:14 PM »
Really sweet of you to be putting this effort in - just by the way :)

In terms of the difference between thanksgiving and christmas dinner, I've found they are pretty similar (from my experience of UK Christmas dinner at least). We've done

Turkey, gravy, mash, sweet potato mash (or casserole, up to you), peas, corn, carrots, squash, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls (I've settled for croissants in past though). It all depends on whether or not I want to put more effort into what I'm making.

We change the puddings up each year going from everything to my traditional stuff like chocolate trifle (different than UK trifle), to pumpkin pie, and - this past year, I had pecan chocolate chip pie and it was AMAZE-BALLS. We invited a friend and her fiance over as she is a brit with a love for American food and was so keen to be a part of the tradition which was great so she made the pie and it was a massive hit. Perhaps you could reach out to your in-laws and ask what type of puddings he is used to having or anything that he liked specifically from home (like maybe a recipe for his families stuffing - for example).

No presents and no real decorating required but I do like to get my pumpkin scented candles out and some autumn-coloured flowers (lots of orange/yellow/red/brown). As I mentioned, we invited two people around last year and before that I invited an American who was working over here so was alone. There are maybe expat groups local to you that you can find on Facebook to celebrate with as well or just anybody keen on a good dinner/celebration. My first year here it was just the two of us and that was fine as well (lots of leftovers! :) ) but this year I'm thinking of trying to invite maybe a few more friends if they're interested. I've never properly hosted more than like 2 additional people at a time but I might be up for the challenge this year as it'll be my 4th Thanksgiving!

Like I said, I would definitely try speaking to his family RE specific traditions that might be nice to carry over, but I think anything you do to mark the day will be well received! It's the thought that definitely counts! When we've celebrated on the day and I've been at work, husband has started the cooking (as he used to work shifts so would be home) and coming home to a person that cared enough to make an attempt to make me feel more at home during a holiday that I'm usually surrounded by family on was more appreciated than he'll ever know because he didn't have to even make that effort. if it was anything less than perfect, I'd never know or care!

Offline Blossom

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2017, 01:52:14 PM »
Thanks so much for those replies!  Hubby will be in charge of the food so I won't worry about that (he used to cook professionally - yes, I know how lucky I am).  My family love him and he is an only child.  So, I am thinking we could invite a couple of my sisters and their husbands and a couple of friends.  These are people I know who are retired and so available on the Thursday, and they have never experienced Thanksgiving before.  I should imagine not all of them would be able to come - but that is the plan so far.

I've been to Thanksgiving dinners while we were living on a compound and there was no real feeling of togetherness.  So I really appreciate the idea of pumpkin candles (didn't know there were such things) and the colours etc which could be used.  Anything to create that special feeling.

Do you find you merge Christmas and Thanksgiving?  The Christmas lights will be turned on here before Thanksgiving!

I appreciate the menu you have outlined.

Another question - would you do this as a sit down meal, or is it possible to have it as a buffet?

Hubby is an only child and he doesn't seem to have that many traditions in his family.  So this is us starting our own.  I want it to be special for him.

I really do appreciate the replies here - keep them coming!

Offline Blossom

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2017, 01:54:45 PM »
I love the idea of excess!  Bring it on!!!!

Offline x0Kiss0fDeath

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2017, 02:06:07 PM »
Thanks so much for those replies!  Hubby will be in charge of the food so I won't worry about that (he used to cook professionally - yes, I know how lucky I am).  My family love him and he is an only child.  So, I am thinking we could invite a couple of my sisters and their husbands and a couple of friends.  These are people I know who are retired and so available on the Thursday, and they have never experienced Thanksgiving before.  I should imagine not all of them would be able to come - but that is the plan so far.

I've been to Thanksgiving dinners while we were living on a compound and there was no real feeling of togetherness.  So I really appreciate the idea of pumpkin candles (didn't know there were such things) and the colours etc which could be used.  Anything to create that special feeling.

Do you find you merge Christmas and Thanksgiving?  The Christmas lights will be turned on here before Thanksgiving!

I appreciate the menu you have outlined.

Another question - would you do this as a sit down meal, or is it possible to have it as a buffet?

Hubby is an only child and he doesn't seem to have that many traditions in his family.  So this is us starting our own.  I want it to be special for him.

I really do appreciate the replies here - keep them coming!

You sound like you have a lovely plan already! If you are unable to have everybody around on a Thursday night, just remember you can always move it a day or two later so it'll be Friday or Saturday (We did Saturday because we wanted to be able to have a few drinks and relax without worrying about work the next day).

We definitely used to decorate more when I was a kid (like at school, we'd make arts and crafts that my mom would hang up and we had window sticker things with turkey and pilgrims on them). If you feel like you want to be more decorative, look up "Thanksgiving ideas" or "Thanksgiving decorations" on pinterest. There are TONS of really cute but easy ideas that you could put together to surprise your husband with :) There's always amazon Prime if you want to buy fall-scented candles etc. (I typed in Thanksgiving and some signs came up and, with Prime, it's free shipping! :) ). It doesn't even have to be pumpkin-scented specifically, I would say apple is also a "fall scent".

We don't particularly merge Thanksgiving and Christmas, but there's no reason you couldn't decide to do this if you wanted to? As you said, it's the both of you starting your own tradition! If you want it to be a sense of family and togetherness, you could make sure you're doing things that are heavily focused on just being together - like playing some games together or gathering around the TV watching seasonal movies (in my family, we're big movie buffs and Thanksgiving was like the beginning of our countdown to Christmas. It signalled that it was the right time of year to start watching things like "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles", "Dutch", "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving", etc.). I would strongly advise maybe talking to your husband about what kinds of traditions he's interested in starting with you and then you can take the lead on organising if you want to surprise him. Even just do a "so I saw people talking about holidays on UKYankee...Some pretty cool traditions people have....What kind of stuff do you see yourself wanting as traditions for us in the future." and go from there.

Honestly, you can do buffet or sit down! Or a mix of both where you have food served buffet style but everybody returns to sit together around the table. Depends on the type of atmosphere you want and the logistics of the layout of your place. Sometimes it might just be easier to do it one way or the other.

Again, I just want to say you sound like an amazing partner! The fact that you're doing this unprompted by him is really nice!

Offline x0Kiss0fDeath

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2017, 02:07:36 PM »


Edited to add: I forgot to mention one important detail: Thanksgiving dinner is a meal of excess.  You're expect to have leftovers, and you might offer to wrap up portions for people to take home with them at the end (especially because it's hard to fit it into the 'fridge, so you want to share that burden!).  If anybody you invited couldn't make it because they were unwell or had to work, but their spouse or child came without them, you would prepare a plate for them and have their family member take it home to them.  Or at least send a piece of pie to them.

OMG there HAS to be leftovers! What else are you going to eat in the middle of the night when you're a bit tipsy and starting to get hungry! hahahah Or lunch the next day?!?! Nothing beats a "Thanksgiving feast sandwich"!!!

Offline Blossom

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2017, 02:15:22 PM »
I've had Thanksgiving sandwich!  Hubby made me one last year.  That has definitely got to be a tradition!  Adapted, of course, to be a Thanksgiving Butty.

I think we will kick of Christmas with Thanksgiving, as suggested.  Christmas could start the following weekend or something and the tree could go up then.

Will definitely look up stuff on Amazon and would cinnamon (as apples are suggested) be an appropriate type of smell to waft about? 

We got married later in life and so we want to enjoy absolutely everything together. 

Your posts have made me excited for the event!  Will definitely be thinking about films now for us to cozy up to while watching.  The smell of roasting turkey and family and friends - what more do you need to be thankful for?  It is going to be fabulous!

 

Offline jfkimberly

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2017, 02:20:46 PM »
Regarding sit-down or buffet style, my family have done both.  Logistically, buffet style is better, especially with larger groups.  There are typically a lot of dishes, and they're going to crowd the table.  Plus, everybody has different preferences, so they will want to load their plates in different proportions (I go big on potatoes and gravy, add a small mix of white and dark turkey, some green beans, a dinner roll, and then I drown it all in gravy).  It's just easier to let everybody sort it out for themselves and then go find a seat.

If it's a small group who can all fit around one table, you can just do sit-down if you prefer.  But serve it "family style", rather than prepared plates.

In my family, the day after Thanksgiving, we would either go out to a movie and dinner, or we would go to the mall and just walk around people-watching (Black Friday madness...).  Sometime over the four-day weekend, our (artificial) Christmas tree and lights would go up, and that kicked off the Christmas season.

So, yes... There was a sort of blending.

I agree with KoD... get in touch with his family and find out whether they have any special traditions.  Everybody has their own little touches for how they arrange the day.  Finding out his family's and doing it justice will really make him feel at home.  Of course, if they genuinely don't have any traditions, this is your opportunity to start your own!  :)

Doing things to make your house seem "warm" and inviting--but not hot and stuffy!--like candles and lower lighting are nice.  Just make it feel homey.  :)
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Offline x0Kiss0fDeath

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2017, 02:25:54 PM »
I've had Thanksgiving sandwich!  Hubby made me one last year.  That has definitely got to be a tradition!  Adapted, of course, to be a Thanksgiving Butty.

I think we will kick of Christmas with Thanksgiving, as suggested.  Christmas could start the following weekend or something and the tree could go up then.

Will definitely look up stuff on Amazon and would cinnamon (as apples are suggested) be an appropriate type of smell to waft about? 

We got married later in life and so we want to enjoy absolutely everything together. 

Your posts have made me excited for the event!  Will definitely be thinking about films now for us to cozy up to while watching.  The smell of roasting turkey and family and friends - what more do you need to be thankful for?  It is going to be fabulous!

haha yeah I think it's like we have Thanksgiving (in our house) as the pre-crimbo madness because I like to get tree up on the first of December. Could get out the decorations on Thanksgiving if you have them stored with the intent to start putting them up the following weekend (as you suggested).

Oh! Another fun thing could be watching stream of the Macy's Day Parade!! I did that one (by myself, admittedly) last year! Was just something festive to get me in the mood as it reminds me about when I'm home, cooking/baking with my mom and siblings with the TV on watching the parade. It starts early in the US but with the time difference to the UK, it's not bad. Not sure where you are and what the time difference is like, but something to keep in mind that I just thought about!

Cinnamon is most definitely fall appropriate! :) For me, I associate thinks like pumpkin, apples, cinnamon (and other pumpkin spice spices), maple, and cranberries to be fall smells. November is kind of Fall going into winter, so I like "warm" scents that make you think you're sitting around a fire pit or fire place with a warm drink all nice and cosy.

I'm glad you're getting excited! I'm actually making myself excited now and it's still a ways away! hahah I usually get more homesick in Autumn because that's my favourite time of year back in New England because of all the "fall traditions" I'm used to, but thinking about this is making me excited for sure! hah When in doubt, pinterest or google! hahah I feel like half the time for holidays I google "xyz holiday movies" because I can never remember the classics to watch at the right times!

Offline jfkimberly

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2017, 02:27:28 PM »
Will definitely look up stuff on Amazon and would cinnamon (as apples are suggested) be an appropriate type of smell to waft about?

Absolutely, yes!  In fact, a lot of people (at least in the southern part of the US) will have pressed apple cider on a low simmer with cinnamon "red hot" candies melted in it.  It's a lovely lovely warm drink around Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And it smells nice, too. :)
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Offline Blossom

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2017, 02:31:16 PM »
Pressed apple cider with cinnamon!  How fabulous is that!

And will definitely do the buffet type meal so everyone can enjoy what they like.

And Macy's Parade - will try and find that on TV.

I really am excited now!

I want to put exclamation marks after everything!

Offline Blossom

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2017, 02:33:29 PM »
And holiday movies!

Maybe a classic like Casablanca or Gone with the Wind  or something.

Can you see  us with mulled apple and cinnamon in a mug in one hand and a Thanksgiving butty in the other?


Offline Albatross

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2017, 02:36:01 PM »
My mom is Thanksgiving-daft and decorates whole-heartedly!

She has a large collection of these (really ugly) plaster or papier-mâché turkeys, painted and with brush-bristles for the sort of 'chest beard' that tom turkeys have.  She also goes mad with pumpkins, gourds and those dried ears of coloured corn/maize, preserved autumn leaves (or maybe they are fabric and look just like leaves?).   She loves it.


Offline Blossom

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Re: Thanksgiving
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2017, 02:38:44 PM »
Albatross - more is always better!  You know, I think it might be a good idea to go the whole hog.  If we have people coming who have no clue what it is all about, then why not?