Wait… What’s “Thanksgiving”?

And why am I meant to be thankful again?

By Adam Sorice. Posted 11/25/2010 15:00 6 Comments     ShareThis

UK Thanksgiving masthead

What I know about Thanksgiving isn’t worth knowing. Or if it is, it’s very little and would probably put me on level pegging with a toddler. There’s something to do with a turkey. And being thankful. And whatever a yam is. Or pilgrims. And maybe you put little chef hats on the feet of the turkey to make it look fancy? But right now I’m already hopelessly fishing into memories of Thanksgiving specials from the likes of Friends and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

The reason I’m grasping at thankful straws so early into an article all about Thanksgiving is because I’ve never had one. Ever. Don’t worry, I’m not from a weird fringe society cult that refuses to smile at balloons and thinks that one day, MacBooks shall grow limbs and revolt upon us (though that doest sound cool.) Instead I’m going to have to play my “outcast” card one more time this year, even if it’s not about being young this time, because I don’t live in North America. I’m not even from America. (Or Canada, we’re all about inclusion here at Nintendojo.)

Monica from Friends with a turkey on her head, Thanksgiving episodeI’m Scottish, and thus British, and we don’t have Thanksgiving here. Partly because we simply love Christmas adverts starting in October but mostly because we have nothing to be thankful for. After all, you’re living in the country that we colonized and built but who’s holding that grudge? For the past 234 years.

I am just kidding, of course. After all it was the English that got all involved with America. The Scottish were far too busy building Canada, which we were very happy with. We were particularly pleased with how the moose turned out.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Thanksgiving! In Britain, there’s this odd perception of the holiday as a kind of token event that doesn’t hold a great deal of importance in the year. Basically we can’t grasp the idea of a whole extra holiday jammed into November. It baffles us. So we just take our default setting of mildly worrying apathy to any notion of Thanksgiving whatsoever.

Instead of being thankful, the British enjoy a miserable month that is largely empty after our celebration of a guy who tried to blow up our home of democracy in the 1600s. After Guy Fawkes night (otherwise known as Bonfire Night or the 5th of November) we turn our attention to eating any Christmas related food we bought giddily in October that’ll be out of date by December 7th or try to remember just where we put all the spare bulbs for our set of failing and utterly pathetic Christmas tree lights. “It’s been working well for centuries; why change?” agrees the nation.

So because of my utter nonchalance towards the whole day, I may have said “I wouldn’t be really bothered if Thanksgiving happened or not!” to my California friend from university. This didn’t go down well.

“Thanksgiving is what America was built on! Without Thanksgiving, we wouldn’t be American!” she retorted with severe indignation, bringing half of the Starbucks down to an awkward, quiet hush.

(On a side note my friend from warm, warm California is truly lovely but she’s not particularly enjoying the Scottish weather. After all it’s snowing tomorrow and we’re still in November. I’m expecting her to get off the subway wrapped in her duvet any day now, to be honest.)

And that is how I learned the vast importance of Thanksgiving, a holiday that is as integral to American society as the fact that half of you love Sarah Palin and the other half think she’s a bit of a “character”. (I’ll leave it at that and be kind, no need to taunt the poor, mad lady.) While Britain is left without such an intriguing and harmonious time of year, the United States does seem lucky to have an opportunity to culturally connect in a fascinating way.

Which is why, despite the fact that she’s only eighteen and the high probability that the ovens in student halls will be woefully insufficient to accommodate a full turkey, my Californian friend is making a whole Thanksgiving meal for her flatmates and friends. It may not be a near-tropical climate but if it reminds her of home then I’m glad that she’s still celebrating Thanksgiving, regardless of being on a different continent. Of course this has lead to a small onslaught of questions about where one can purchase a turkey thermometer in Glasgow two days before cooking a massive bird but it’s fine, I can deal. My knowledge of thermometers is, apparently, more than sufficient.

Mince Pies(I’ve just realised that I’ve got this far into the article and not mentioned video games whatsoever. Ummm, perhaps next year Cooking Mama could bring out a new game teaching you how to make a full Thanksgiving meal? That I would play. Then at least when I ruin an entire Thanksgiving meal I won’t ruin a familial holiday as well. Good, that should fulfill the “gaming” quota for the article.)

So whether you’re in Glasgow or Georgia or any other place in America or otherwise that starts with G or any other letter in the grand alphabet, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and many happy returns. As for my Thursday? I think I might crack open a packet of Christmas mince pies. After all, they’re up next week.

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