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Thanksgiving Traditions

Guest Post: With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we asked Jessica Knight – Head of Business Development in North America – to discuss what it means to her. 

The holiday season is upon us and in many homes around the world this means Christmas lights are shining and festive music is in the air. In the U.S. however it is frowned upon by your neighbors to begin the process of decorating prior to the last Thursday in November known as Thanksgiving. It’s a very important holiday in the States that must be celebrated before we can kick off the official start of present season.

A family eating thanksgiving dinner

Working for an English company I found that my British coworkers were curious to know what Thanksgiving is all about. They asked about my Thanksgiving traditions and what the holiday meant to me. For those who haven’t had a Thanksgiving Day experience and want to understand the hype let me tell you about this glorious holiday that revolves strictly around family, food and football!

The origin of Thanksgiving is something we learn in first-grade while wearing paper Pilgrim hats and Native American feathers. I had to double check this history lesson from my childhood and it turns out the stories I learned hold up.

The first Thanksgiving took place long ago in 1621 when Pilgrims who sailed from England in a ship named the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts to start a colony named after their old home of Plymouth. They met and befriended a Native American tribe named the Wampanoag’s who eventually taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn. To celebrate the Pilgrims first successful corn harvest they hosted the Native Americans at a three-day feast.

Over time this story of coming together in celebration has evolved into a day spent indulging with your loved ones while saying thanks for so many blessings. For me Thanksgiving kicks off the night before in my mom’s kitchen where we spend the evening prepping the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pie. Additional sides prepared the next day include gravy, corn, yams, green bean casserole and jellied cranberry from a can. I treasure this time spent with my sister and mom learning recipes from my great grandma’s cookbook.

When the big day arrives, I start the morning by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade where elaborate floats parade down the streets of New York with stops along the way for musical performances. I always make sure to be planted in front of the TV for the high-flying kicks of the Radio City Rockettes. Family begins to trickle in and we squeeze into the dining room where the meal is served family style. Uncle Joe leads grace and after we all dig in!

It’s very important to wear Thanksgiving appropriate clothing which includes stretchy pants and a loose sweater (aka jumper). Every year we squeeze tighter to make room for our expanding family as significant others and babies are added to the table.

After our stomachs have reached maximum capacity, we retreat to the living room to lounge around and watch football (The kind that involves throwing not kicking). Just when you think you might not be able to eat again, Mom breaks out the apple and pumpkin pie. For me this is just the first stop of Thanksgiving Day as I still have my dad’s side of the family and my mother-in-law’s house to make it to!

For many the day after Thanksgiving is reserved for waking up at the crack of dawn to hunt down the best Black Friday deals. I prefer to sleep in and do my shopping online.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because there isn’t the pressure of gift giving or a competition to have the best light display. It’s simply saying thanks while enjoying good food and time with family.