‘Merica! – What Happens When You Spend Thanksgiving Abroad

November 22, 2015

roasting turkey
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Ah Thanksgiving! That unique holiday, deeply imbedded in the heart of American society. Not every American celebrates Thanksgiving as enthusiastically or as traditionally as some, but there is some sentiment that Thanksgiving is ingrained as part of the American lifestyle. Popular culture, news, and commercials will be inundated with Thanksgiving-themed tidbits through all of October and November. It will be all about the Turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes (wait, did the pilgrims make that?). We’re all gonna eat til we’re stuffed, then change into sweatpants and eat more. I’d say that’s pretty American, don’t you think?

American thanksgiving
img attribute: http://www.maguzz.com/3/thanksgiving-meme.html


So what happens when you have to spend Thanksgiving abroad?

When you spend Thanksgiving abroad, you’ll most likely be the only person wanting to celebrate Thanksgiving. You may or may not have access to all those delicious American tasting ingredients that make a Thanksgiving meal complete.

In fact, you may just eat something completely different. Like pizza.

thanksgiving abroad


Or if you celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving abroad, you may have to locate your own wild turkey/chicken.

And roast it on a fire for several hours…

thanksgiving in Sagada
Gutting the turkey with her bare hands…
turkey on fire
I’m pretty sure the first pilgrims didn’t have ovens either…


You may develop new traditions, such as drinking copious amounts of local Filipino rice wine.

Ooohhh, I could get used to that tradition.

rice wine


You will get a chance to share more about American culture with others.

“Teacher, why are we drawing turkeys?”

“Because it’s my American Thanksgiving today and we are going to write what we are thankful for.”

“Oh! What do turkeys have to do with being thankful?”

“Hmm, good question…”


Spending Thanksgiving abroad, you may develop an adamant need to gather with anyone else who is also American

And cook up a wonderful feast, of course.

thanksgiving sagada
In charge of the fire…

cooking thanksgiving abroad


You may also attract others who aren’t American.

Who doesn’t love to celebrate life with good food and good company? We love our international friends!

thanksgiving friends abroad
So one day in the Philippines, two Americans and one Australian drank some rice wine…


You will gain a strange sense of what it means to be American.

This is something that can only be experienced abroad. When you’ve spent all your life in America, you take for granted what makes American culture unique or different. It is only once they are removed that you even notice them at all. Living outside the U.S. brings a new perspective on life and American Identity.


You will, of course, miss home.

You will miss your family and friends. You will miss that dish your grandma always cooks for Thanksgiving dinner. You will miss the red autumn leaves or the smell of pine trees on a cold brisk day. You will miss all these things and more.

But you will also be flooded with an overabundance of thankfulness. Being so far away from everything that you hold dear, you realize just how blessed you are to have those things in your life. You will appreciate your loved ones that much more. Gratitude will be your lifestyle; joy will be your gift.


Spending Thanksgiving abroad isn’t so bad, after all.


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More about Deborah

Filipino American with a passion for making a difference. Writer. Blogger. Dreamer. Adventurer.

Keep me updated on Filipino American Stories, lifestyle, and travel!

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