Yes, it’s today. The biggest turkey day, busiest travel, meet up with friends and family day in the American calendar. It’s bigger and probably more meaningful than Christmas to most of the American population, they will stop at nothing to get home for the big day…. ever seen Planes, Trains and Automobiles with John Candy??? Home For the Holidays?? It’s all about Thanksgiving. Doesn’t matter where you live, which state, perhaps even which country, you have to get home, at all costs.
Now this whole bigger than Christmas thing was a new concept to us when we first moved here. I think we spent our first Thanksgiving Holiday (4 day weekend) in a couple of cheap motels in Northern Michigan, because to us, it was just two extra days off work, so we made the most of it and went exploring the state. Another year, we went to Toronto by train, stayed “down town” and had tickets to the fantastic Phantom of the Opera (including a behind the scenes tour the next day) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
When we first moved to this area (in 1994) I was absolutely astonished at how insular and blinkered a lot of the Americans we met seemed to be, I suppose in retrospect, it comes from living in a country as large as a continent, you didn’t have to know about the outside world if you really didn’t want to. We met loads of people who had NEVER left the State of Michigan! Had NEVER been to California or The Grand Canyon; were a little jealous of all of our traveling in the US as they’d like to go on a trip too! Of course most of them at that time didn’t have a passport, didn’t need one either, their photo ID drivers license would get them into Canada quite easily. Of course many things have changed now, especially the immigration laws, for the Americans too, you now need a passport to go to Canada for example, or at least you will from next year.
But getting back to those early days in America and Thanksgiving in general, I just couldn’t believe how many people asked us if we celebrated Thanksgiving in England, and it wasn’t just idle curiosity or even a joke…. they truly didn’t know! Which I suppose just went to show how much they really understood their own history!! At work I was asked this same question so many times I was completely fed up of it, it got to the point where I couldn’t even go in the break room in the weeks leading up to the event without someone asking “the dreaded question”, and if I didn’t get asked “the dreaded question” then some other person in the room who already knew the answer to “the dreaded question” would point out to someone else how remiss the English were because we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving….. and then the whole conversation would start all over again and I would just walk out.
Eventually though I came up with the perfect answer to “the dreaded question”, an answer that completely shut them up, made them go “huh” and finally, made them stop asking me! It went something like this:
THEM: So tell me, do you celebrate Thanksgiving in England?
ME: No, actually we don’t.
THEM: Really? Really? You honestly don’t celebrate it?
ME: Nope, we do have a sort of celebration though, only it’s on October 20th (pick a date at random).
THEM: Oh, that’s odd. Why October 20th?
ME: That’s the day they all bloody left!
The conversation ended pretty sharply after that! A bit mean perhaps, but my God, it was the only way I could get through to them sometimes!!!! I also used to get asked (in all seriousness) if we celebrated July 4th (Independence Day) in the UK too! Mad, absolutely bloody mad!
As if that wasn’t funny enough, I’ll leave you with a little Thanksgiving joke…
It was just before Thanksgiving in Walmart and a woman was anxiously picking over the last few remaining turkeys in the hope of finding a large one.
In desperation she called over a shop assistant and said, ‘Excuse me. Do these turkeys get any bigger?’
‘No, madam, ‘he replied, ‘they’re all dead.’