Thanksgiving in Pilgrim Land

Growing up, my jobs on Thanksgiving have remained fairly the same: set the table, watch the parade, and steal bites from every side dish before it was time to eat. This year however, was very different.

Since studying abroad in England meant 1. No Thanksgiving break and 2. No moms to cook the Thanksgiving meal, we took it upon ourselves to have the best Thanksgiving ever (despite not knowing how to cook and being in the land of the pilgrims). With jobs ranging from basting the turkey to crafting specialty Indian hats, the events of Thanksgiving began well before November 26th.
As it wasn’t quite time for the Brit’s Christmas feast, finding a turkey for the big day proved much harder than expected. After searching five stores to find the best bird, and having stuffing mix and pumpkin purée shipped in from America, we figured we had the essentials covered for our Thanksgiving in Britain. Oh were we wrong.

First, there was the cheese dilemma. From Velveeta to American our dreams of cheese corn quickly dwindled as we ran from Tesco to Sainsbury to Waitrose and everything in between, only finding the freshest of mozzarella and bags of British cheddar. And while we may have dodged the trauma of not being able to find turkey decorations by having them overnighted from the States, my semi-southern roots took a shock when there was no cornbread to be found.

Being a stone throw from Ireland, we figured the potatoes on our menu would be the easiest dish to conquer. With potatoes simple to find though, we soon learned that mini marshmallows to top the sweet potatoes were not a staple to London grocery stores. Finally picking all of the white ‘mallows out of a giant pack of Haribo Chamallows and blending our mashed potatoes with a blender, the potato sides were prepared and ready for the big feast.

When it came to the big day, our cooking skills proved anything but. Attempting to cook with a Celsius reading oven that was only big enough to hold one dish at a time, the first pie of the morning was incinerated by 8am. Thankfully by the time Herald the turkey made it into the oven, we had mastered the Celsius/Ferenheit conversion rate and had woken up moms across the States for Thanksgiving meal advice.

Finally sitting down with our British guests, wearing Pilgrim hats of course, and tricking our computers into thinking we had US IP addresses so we could watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (even if it was at three in the afternoon), Thanksgiving in England proved that even abroad, traditions find a way of happening.

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