Never Thought I’d Miss Thanksgiving

22 Nov

As holidays go, I’ve never cared much about Thanksgiving.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was a day we got off school, which would have been cool, except my dad also had the day off work and he’d stay home and yell at us for playing too loudly and he’d hog the computer all day. Although some years, if it wasn’t too cold, he’d spend the day outside putting up Christmas lights and my mom would let us kids cut up paper grocery bags and construction paper to make pilgrim and Indian costumes.

We never had relatives over for Thanksgiving, but my mom did her best to cook us a nice dinner. We were poor back then, though, so Thanksgiving dinner consisted of a Jennie-O turkey loaf (not a real turkey), canned green beans, and instant mashed potatoes with powdered gravy. And maybe a frozen Sarah Lee apple pie. The best part about the meal was the brown & serve rolls, topped with margarine. Personally, I always preferred the menu the next day, when we made our gingerbread houses, because we got to munch on all the candy bits for the houses all afternoon.

As an adult, my ex-boyfriend’s family celebrated Thanksgiving and we always spent the holiday with them. But other than his parents, his family didn’t like me, so it was always very awkward. I literally just sat in a corner the whole day being ignored or glared at. The food was great, the company not so much.

This year, it’s been hard to miss the constant updates from my friends on Facebook about their Thanksgiving plans. I know my family will be celebrating. These days, they’re not quite so poor, so they do a proper Thanksgiving now. I’ve actually never celebrated one of their proper Thanksgivings with them.

H asked if I’d like him to take the day off work so that he could stay home and make me a roast turkey. Isn’t he just the sweetest? I told him no, because I don’t like turkey all that much and because he’s already taken a lot of time off lately. Besides, we don’t have anyone to celebrate with. Neither of us has family here and Australians don’t care about Thanksgiving, anyway.

I don’t know why all of a sudden I miss Thanksgiving now. Maybe it’s the finality of knowing I won’t ever be part of a Thanksgiving celebration again. And that my kids will never experience it. Maybe I just miss my family. Maybe it’s just glorified homesickness. But for some reason, I find myself wishing we could have Thanksgiving in Australia.

25 Responses to “Never Thought I’d Miss Thanksgiving”

  1. josephinedayco November 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Awwww this makes me so sad. 😦 I wish you lived closer so you could come join our little gathering tonight. It’s true, Aussies may not care about Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t stop them from saying no to a free home-cooked feast!

    • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      Thanks for the sentiment. 🙂 I suppose most Aussies probably wouldn’t turn down a free dinner. But most of the people we know don’t actually know -me- that well and I’d feel weird inviting G’s friends over for some American tradition. Besides, what if they hated my cooking?! (I’ve never cooked Thanksgiving dinner before, so they’d be my guinea pigs, ha!)

  2. Colleen November 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Make the dinner and a fuss, you’ll be happy you did.

    • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

      Too late now. 😦 Maybe next year. By the time I thought about it this year, I really didn’t have time to plan it or accomplish it.

  3. Zeta November 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (probably because it doesn’t have any real religious significance), so even though Danes don’t celebrate, I’m going to! I don’t care much about doing it on actual Thanksgiving, but we’re just moving it to the weekend so that no one has to take any time off, and we can have all day to cook together! Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be about relatives or Thursday or even turkey if you don’t like it! (I’m a vegetarian now, so I’m all about the sides anyway.) It’s one of the American traditions that I actually really want to introduce to my kids because to me, the day is about everyone working together to make the dinner, and having fun as a family (even if that family only consists of two)!

    • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      I read your Thanksgiving post. It sounded like it was really nice! I think when we have kids, I will definitely make the effort for them. Sometimes it just seems silly to waste time and money on any holiday celebrations that are just for the two of us.

  4. Bren November 22, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    I live in the UK and we never have had Thanksgiving and I envy you Americans.. I would love Britain to have something similar, it seems as if it is such a joyous occasion without the religious side to it.

    Our Government won’t even give us a day of for St George so Thanksgiving stands no chance 😀

    Have a nice meal, bottle of wine and put the Christmas tree up.. that way it will feel like happy holidays.

    • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

      Yeah, but you guys all make a big deal out of Sunday lunch. A lot of people seem to have a nice feast every week with that! That’s almost like a whole Thanksgiving dinner sometimes.

      • Bren November 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

        I think over the years, especially since Sunday Trading, the British traditional Sunday Lunch has changed. Now I feel as if Sunday’s are treated as just another normal day.

        I can always remember as a child that my dad, granddad and uncles would dress nicely for Sunday.. shirt and tie sort of thing.. but now Sunday’s I feel have lost their true meaning.

      • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

        I guess compared to what I was used to, Sunday lunch always seemed like a really big deal. Every eating place serves a nice roast and a lot of the best pubs are packed full all day long. I’m sure a lot of people probably still cook their own at home, too. Granted, people didn’t seem to get dressed up for it, but I think people don’t dress as nicely as they used to, in general. I always thought it was nice that families went out and had lunch together and that it seemed like a special thing. I’m sure it seems a lot more routine to someone who has grown up there, but it’s not something that is done in America, so it caught my interest.

      • Bren November 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

        Sunday’s, when I was a child always seemed, something to look forward to… either the family arrived at your home or you would go to an Aunt’s or an Uncle’s house for dinner.

        I can always remember Sunday’s up at my nan and granddad’s, my aunt would cook, my mum would set the table, another aunt would help clear up the bits as dinner was being served and the men would come back from the pub for a traditional Sunday roast.

        Whether it was fond memories because I was a child, but Sunday’s seemed to change over the years. People would do other things, go shopping, walk around the newest shopping centre.

        But I think the real reason is back in those days families lived around each other.. Now families are further afield and they don’t get to see each other regularly.

        Oh yes the British Pubs do cater for Sunday’s but there again, I think it is to capture a market, people who do other things, like shopping stop off and dine at the pub because it saves them cooking when they get in.

  5. ausurfer November 23, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I lived in your country for 10 years and came back to Brisbane 6 years ago. I wrote on my FB yesterday that of all the holidays I experienced in those years, Thanksgiving is the one most missed. A time for friends and familes to gather; to eat and be merry; and to truly think about stuff. The parade, the good times. Most Aussies don’t understand the significance of it — and that’s a shame, because it is special.
    I’m sorry you are missing it — but maybe one year you can go back at that time and share in the festivities.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

      After hearing so many Aussies say how much they hate Halloween because it is “too American”, I sort of assume they would feel the same way about Thanksgiving.
      Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you, too.

      • ausurfer November 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

        Yes, it is annoying to me when Aussies go on about Halloween being too American. But having experienced that in a small country town, I miss it as well. iLife the traditions you all have.

  6. astimegoesbuy November 28, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    I am very lucky in that my Australian husband has been to the US for a Thanksgiving with my family and he rather like the tradition…I actually think it’s the food he likes best! So every year we do some kind of homage to my heritage with Thanksgiving. This year I did a really nice warm salad.
    Steamed Green beans, par-boiled potato (cut in chunks – very rustic), red onion, crispy pancetta, dried cranberries. All this topped with a pomegranite, olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing and on a platter. Turkey breast cooked and sliced over the top and then sprinkled slivered almonds over the whole thing.
    It was pretty yummy with all the flavours of thanksgiving but modified for now!

    We also do mexican food, sangria and margaritas for our friends on boxing day as an homage. That came about because I really missed a cold Christmas and we thought let’s just start our own tradition.

    Hang in there, you will find your way and make things new and different. Your kids can have new family traditions!


    • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      That sounds like a nice menu! I’m sure G would love typical Thanksgiving food. He did sort of like the idea of roasting a turkey when we talked about it. Maybe we’ll give it a try next year.

      • astimegoesbuy November 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

        Don’t let your heritage and culture totally go. Your children will be blessed to know and understand the culture you come from. I know sometimes it is hard for us to think we have a culture or heritage (coming from the US) but it plays a big part in who you are!

  7. muddledmom November 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Go ahead and do it sometime. The food is great. Maybe you’ll change your tune when you get to the clean-up. That’s the part I hate!

    • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

      Ugh, the clean up! That was sort of a factor in my decision not to do it. While my husband is always happy to help with the cooking, especially anything where he can use his big chopping knives, as soon as clean up time comes around, he mysteriously disappears. I usually find him “resting his eyes” or “stretching his back” on the bed with the lights out. Promises to help clean up “later” go unfulfilled, because by “later”, he means “next week”. I did NOT want to have to clean up a Thanksgiving mess all by myself, especially scrubbing out a roasting pan filled with grimy turkey bits. Ew!

      • muddledmom November 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

        Yeah, it’s bad enough that every year I beg my mom to please just order some food so we don’t have to cook. Our family is small. By the time we do all the cooking, we sit down and eat it up in ten minutes. Then clean-up takes another hour or so. One year she will listen to me. That or my kids will be old enough to do all the dishes by themselves!

  8. Olive November 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Is it really that surprising us Aussies don’t care about Thanksgiving? It’s not a holiday here. Why would we celebrate a holiday we don’t have?

    • housewifedownunder November 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      I don’t think anyone is surprised that Aussies don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. We all know it’s not a holiday here. That doesn’t stop American expats from missing it, though.

  9. Hailey December 4, 2012 at 2:18 am #

    I love Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s on my birthday.

    • housewifedownunder December 6, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Don’t you hate having a birthday on a holiday? I’m a Christmas baby and my sister is a 4th of July baby and we always hated that our birthdays got overlooked in favour of a holiday.


  1. Memories « On My Front Porch - November 29, 2012

    […] few days ago, I read a post on a blog where an American Lady, living down under, began to miss Thanksgiving.   I would recommend to any person to pop over to […]

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