Life in America

My First Thanksgiving

I’m binge watching Friends on Netflix now, a little distracted but I’ll do my best to describe my wonderful experience this last Friday. My first “thanksgiving”.

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of the roasted turkey. I think I get that idea from the Hollywood movies. Although, I wasn’t sure at that time what Thanksgiving dinner is for. I know it’s around Christmas and that families or friends get together and enjoy a feast.

It’s amazing to think that before I met my husband, Thanksgiving doesn’t really mean to me. I know it’s an important occasion for Americans but as a Filipina, I truly didn’t look forward to it. I was even feeling sad a week before because well.. the thought of me being away from my family for the first time in the Philippines and not spend Christmas and New Year with them just kind of brings tears to my eyes. Change like I said is beautiful but you just can’t help feel human and be teary-eyed about it. Literally, this is my first time to be away and not spend Christmas with them and sometimes I wish I only have to drive 2 hours or 6 hours to visit them. Reality is I have to travel for like 2 days and I’m not even talking about a very expensive plane ticket here.

This should be a happy post because it is. Lol. So let’s cut the drama.

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First, I have to explain that we celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday instead of Thursday (technically the thanksgiving day) because the family of my husband has to drive from Illinois to Missouri to spend the weekend with us. My husband has two holidays off and that gives us 4 days to enjoy the weekend. Friday is famously called the Black Friday. A day when the stores hits an all time low for discounts. My husband told me it even starts at midnight. If you’re the person who loves to shop, this might be a great time for you. I should warn you about the long lines though. It is a crazy day for shoppers.

I turned off the television now (will binge on Friends later) because I really want to focus on this. I want to give justice and to really paint a good picture on what it’s like to experience Thanksgiving especially for a first timer like me who just happened to be a Filipina with my own set of traditions and culture.

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They said that you can tell a lot on the person if you eat together with them. Food is an excellent source or an impressive storyteller of one’s culture or background. You can tell just by how they eat, the type of food, the utensils used, the table manners and whatnot. I’m not gonna go in detail but if a food tells a lot about the person how much more if you spend a Thanksgiving dinner with them. It is truly amazing for me to experience such a beautiful American tradition. That I can tell you..

We have to travel 2 hours from our house in Kansas City to reach my in-laws house. We decided to go at 10 in the morning on Thursday and be there at noon to spend a late lunch with the family. Wednesday was a busy day for me because we have to bring some food with us for the occasion. So I made Lumpia and Maja Blanca in the afternoon and my husband baked 2 pecan pies- my favorite.

Thursday morning, my husband couldn’t resist buying some mangoes in Asian store although they were very ripe. He was thinking of making Mango float with me. He loves to showcase the Filipino food to the family and well, I won’t complain. I love sharing my beautiful culture too. The best way of course is through their stomachs. Lol.

We had Chicken soup for our late lunch and corn bread that my husband loves so much. Thursday ended so fast because we just can’t wait for Friday to come. Our very own Thanksgiving day! The idea of tasting turkey for the very first time kinda made me difficult to sleep that night. I was tossing in the bed and had a disturbed sleep. Waking up from time to time. I know so childish right? But I was just freakingly excited ‘coz it’s new food. It’s not as if I have tasted it before. I’m like an infant with all these baby food. Tasting them for the first time.. the difference is I know it’s gonna be a turkey. A 22 lbs turkey!! Huh, I’m as giddy as a kid in the candy store.

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The morning was buzzing with all the cooking in the kitchen. Good thing, me and my husband already cooked our contribution so we got time to go outside, walk for awhile and decided to visit a childhood friend of my husband’s. We met his wife and 2 little girls who look like living dolls. He has lots of dogs and even owns a horse but he is also a hunter and it’s deer season so he gave us a bag of deer jerky. Which out of courtesy, I ate a bit of it. It was my first time to eat a deer meat so I’m veryย uncomfortable with the idea of eating “Bambi’s”.

I have no problem eating meat. I even called myself a carnivore. I love to eat chicken the best. Deer meat is called venison. It is a really yummy meat and a lot healthier too according to my husband. I haven’t eaten a venison steak yet but it’s on my list. Maybe I’ll get used to the idea of eating deer meat soon. My husband said that there’s too many deer that is why a hunting season was invented “to shoot them”. Maybe I just find the idea of hunting so uncomfortable. Okay. Let’s better call it “shooting”. They have these guns you know. It also concerns me that it maybe not safe to walk in the woods. They might accidentally shoot people. But my husband assured me that they know the safety guidelines. Still, I find deer amazing. They are new to me. We don’t have them in the Philippines. So killing or shooting them just doesn’t sound so appealing but venison steak might if it’s really that good. See the conflict here lol. Okay, let’s stop this gory subject.

He has really cool kids though and they like me so much that they want to show their pets to me. Even allowed me to pet and feed their beautiful horse with a piece of carrot. Lol. Anyways, I think my name did the trick. They are huge fans of Frozen. I’m Anna so.. lol. I also entertained them with snapchat filters. Huh, who doesn’t like that? It’s an app where you can get ears and still look cool. They really like me so much that they want to go home with me and leave their parents lol. Awww, such sweet little girls.

When we came back, it’s just about time to start the Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone is abuzz to do their finishing touches. The table is nicely decorated with maple roses and lighted candles. It’s the classic look of “fall”. Red, orange and yellow shades dominating the table. My husband said that you know it’s finally dinner when the turkey is done. We only had breakfast that day at 9 in the morning. Thanksgiving dinner is more of a lunch-dinner kind of thing. It’s just called dinner because the turkey takes so much time to cook either by roasting/baking or by frying it which is kinda tricky to do because it could explode lol. If you fry it and it’s still frozen.

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So I know the dinner starts when the turkey is being taken out from the oven. That’s the highlight because finally everyone can sit down and start eating. We did a buffet style. The desserts had the right to have its own table. They took up space so much because of how many and huge they are especially the yummy pies. We have a variety of them: apple pies, pumpkin pies and my favorite pecan pies. Maja blanca, mango float and blueberry muffins were also served. In the main dishes table they were baked stuffing bread from the inside of turkey which I didn’t like so much. The same with the green beans casserole. So vegetable tasting for me. I don’t want to eat vegetables on thanksgiving lol. Maybe another day?

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Anyway, what I really love were: mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole with the brown sugar frosting, yummy mashed potato and corn to pair with the turkey which is by the way is so yummy. Has a different taste with the chicken although it was hard to differentiate at first. It was the skin which gave away. It also has a different texture and the dark meat has a stronger taste. Oh, and they said that like salt and pepper, turkey could’t be served without cranberry. It looks like a red jelly because it was chilled or from a can. It has that consistency of a jam and gives a little sweetness to your turkey meat.

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It was a very heavenly meal. I ate so much like I did when I went to a fiesta and ate in 3 houses. Of course, a thanksgiving wouldn’t complete if you didn’t take a nap in the afternoon. It was about 3 in the afternoon when we started eating our thanksgiving dinner. Only composed of main and side dishes because desserts can be eaten anytime anyway plus our stomachs also has a limit lol. Desserts can wait.. we won’t risk it right?

So we took the nap maybe about 5 or 6 in the afternoon. Woke up at around 7 or 8 in the evening and that’s when you can finally eat a dessert because at least your tummy has a wiggly little room now. Anyways, they said eating turkey really makes you sleepy because it contains an amino acid which is called tryptophan. ย It makes you tired and thus sleepy. Not sure if this is a fact or just an old time myth but it really made me tired. I know because I drink coffee as much as I can eat turkey and still I feel and look tired and sleepy. Coffee failed to combat those amino acids then. Lol. Oh, coffee failed me!

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We woke up at 10 in the morning the next day. It was such a nice breezy day for everyone. We spent the day playing different games from boggle (a word game) to sequence (like a bingo but more of strategic and you even got allies) to the game “Clue” where you should make an intelligent guess who made the crime, what tool the suspect used and where. ย You get clues along the way. The best game and also the very frustrating one for me was the “Phase 10”. It’s a card game with different phases. Every phase has it own unique challenge. You need to pass the challenge first before you can level up. So anyone of you might get stuck at Phase 3 while everyone else are already in Phase 7 or 8. It happened to me. It’s why it was very frustrating like I just want to cry right there and then.

Phase 3 challenge is that you should have a 4 set and a 4 run in your cards. A set should be 4 of any number and an example of a run is 3, 4, 5, 6 cards. I was stuck and played that phase for more than 5 times I think while everyone has already reached phase 7. Incredibly frustrating, I felt I was so unlucky. We had a food and toilet break because it is really a long game (it can take hours). So I ate my dinner and applied some menthol on my forehead (I kinda got lightheaded ‘coz of frustration and well, hunger) then right afterwards, lo and behold I am winning every phase. You know you’re unlucky when you keep getting “skip” cards and I think it backfired on me lol. That explains my bad luck the first 3 phases of the game.

You know you’re getting lucky when you keep getting “wild cards” it helps you complete a set or a run. So long story short.. I made it even in the Phase 10. Al though I didn’t win. The frustration turned wonderfully into one of the best memories I made on Thanksgiving weekend. Now, I want to play that mean game again. Trust me, when I say just don’t give up lol. Or if you get unlucky streaks just take a “toilet or food break”. Anyway, my husband was really ahead of that game. It’s a strategic game so that’s really his thing. Not my thing lol.. I love word games more.

Phase 10 teaches you patience and that you just have to keep going. I almost win because I reached the 10th Phase. If I gave up on Phase 3 because I got stuck there big time then I wouldn’t have this wonderful memory with me now. It might make you cry if you get stuck but it truly doesn’t mean that you will stay there. You will move ahead and catch up with the rest and like me almost win. Like in life.. lol.

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Thanksgiving didn’t mean to me before but not anymore. It means so much more than pies and a roasted turkey. It’s a time for families and friends to bond. To be thankful for each other’s presence into their lives. A time to reflect how much blessed we are. To be thankful and giving.

It’s so easy to overlook our blessings and also very easy to be selfish. It’s even like our second nature. Thanksgiving is a way to remind us that there is goodness in our hearts. We may have busy lives but we should give time to have time for our loved ones. We can always make a choice. Life is so short and by the concept of thanksgiving: we reflect, savor and celebrate life and the company of each other.

So that’s it.. I made a very lengthy blog about my first Thanksgiving. I really want to go in detail because I want to etch it in my memory and so by writing it might remind me in ways that it will just surprise me one day. When Thanksgiving will finally be a part of me, wiggle its way as a part of my own culture and tradition. Of course, I may not be in the Philippines anymore but no one can’t take the Philippines out of me. I wish to be a better person, one who can find balance and harmony in two different cultures because both are my home now and most of all WHY NOT!! Two homes are so cool… ^^

-Anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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