Thanksgiving in England: How to not to die of homesickness

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  This time of year, we always get a LOT of emails from fellow expats that are trying to distract themselves from HHH (Heinous Holiday Homesickness).  I hold my arms open wide and give you all big, non-creepy hugs…

Because so many of your are hurtin’, I thought I’d write down my personal and extra-special check-list that I’ve developed to to kick HHH’s arse.

1 – PARTY!

We’re American and we are used to celebrating this day – don’t stop now just because of the tiny, insignificant fact that you don’t ACTUALLY LIVE THERE ANY MORE   Invite people over – heck, invite PERSON over and channel your inner pilgrim.  Drink ’til you’re merry then eat ’til you’re comatose.

Don’t worry about everyone being American, Brits go MENTAL of Thanksgiving.  There have been years that friends that live on the other side of the UK call me up 6 MONTHS IN ADVANCE to ‘reserve’ their seats at Thanksgiving.  Once a friend even flew over from Spain just to be part of our Thanks-mania.

2 – Take the day off

It took me two years to realise that the single thing that pissed me off the most about missing American Thanksgiving was not getting any time off.  From the minute my alarm clock would go off on Thanksgiving morning, I felt like I wanted to throw things and burst into tears.

But the third year in, I took Thanksgiving day off from work and spent the whole day prepping for party-central and watching the original Miracle on 34th Street on constant loop.  BLOODY HELL, it made me feel SOOOOO much better.

Can’t recommend it highly enough.

3 – Do something REALLY American

I’ll give you three guesses about what I do on Thanksgiving Day every year (and have done since my first expat Thanksgiving all the way back in 2005).

Give up?

I GO TO STARBUCKS.

I swear I’m not paid to constantly talk about Starbucks – I don’t even go there all that often.  I just write about it on here a lot because it’s my go-to-screw-you-HHH solution.

Anyway – this is pretty much the first thing I do every Thanksgiving.  I take myself out for a giant eggnog latte and an enormous pastry.  I bring a book and I just sit, read, and soak in all that glorious caffeine and sugar.  I soak it up and I wear it like a sweater / armour all day long. HHH can’t touch me when I’ve got my American buzz on.

4 – Don’t try to EXACTLY duplicate your childhood Thanksgiving

This is another thing I tried to do for the first two years and I can hold my head up high and tell you that it TANKED.  BIG TIME.

Duplicating my American Thanksgiving caused all KINDS of trouble.  For example:

  • Trying to find certain ingredients was a nightmare (Canned pumpkin, fried onions, the right kind of stuffing mix)
  • Asking everyone around the table to say one thing they’re thankful for went down  like a lead balloon.  On the whole, everyone was TOTALLY embarrassed about it.  We didn’t even get all the way around the table.  The Brits staged a kind of silent revolt and gave up half-way through.  For an English twist, why not ask everyone to make a comment about the weather instead?  (Kidding kidding… that was kinda mean, sorry. Clearly I’m still bitter.)
  • Some of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes gave my English guest the heebies.  They’re weren’t a big fan of green bean casserole.  They were sceptical about candied yams and they were surprised (although not horrified) about the stuffing because it was so different to what they’re used to.
  • It’s worth noting that I’m a vegetarian and we also had quorn roast instead of turkey.  You’ll be SHOCKED to know that it didn’t go down that well. :)

5 – Talk to your family

This is both the absolute best and the super-most-difficult part every year – but it’s an absolute essential.  I always want to have a little tear-session after I talk to my fam, but I also know that I’d feel like a big ol’ pile of shite if I didn’t catch up with them.

———-

And that’s it!  I do these 5 things every year and really REALLY helps.

Does anyone have any tips or traditions that you’ve started since you’ve been an expat?  There’s freakin’ LOADS of room on my list for more traditions, so bring it on.

How did you celebrate the Royal Wedding? Come on… confess.

Yesterday I had every intention of rolling out of bed and casually sipping my coffee while watching the Royal Wedding.  I had firm plans to relax and ‘have it on in the background’ while I did some day-off-admin.

teal fascinator

Kind of like the fascinator I was wearing…

But come 11am British-Royal-Wedding time, I was sitting entranced on my couch wearing a party dress and a fascinator (a bit like the one pictured), bouncing up and down on the sofa and occasionally squealing like a little kid.

PeacefulYorkshire (who was also wearing a party dress) and I were Skyping so we could watch it together and talk about it.  ’It’ ended up being mostly talking about people’s wedding hats – I think the British could teach the world a thing or two about how to rock a fantastic hat.  (For the record, the ones that caused us to make the most noise were Princess Beatrice’s, Victoria Beckham’s and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s – opinions on a postcard, please…)

Anyway, I was completely swept up in the excitement and I think it was an awesome thing to be a part of.  A fine day to be British!  (Even though I’m still technically not British…)

It was AWESOME to see so many people gathered in London to celebrate.  It seemed like there were some seriously good vibes flowing and everyone was having a royally excellent time.

How did you guys celebrate??  Did anyone go to London to take part in the big-style-party-atmosphere?  Did anyone actually witness the balcony kiss first hand??  I’m still excited and I want to hear all about it…

The Royal Wedding!!! Have you ever SEEN so many crazy-mazing hats??

I literally feel exhausted after watching the royal wedding.  I was soooooo freakin’ excited!!  Far more excited, in fact, than I ever thought I’d be.

PeacefulYorkshire and I were Skyping each other while watching the prep on the BBC.  It was awesome watching Wills ride to the Westminster Abby (not a shabby place to tie the knot, I must say…).  Kate’s dress was insanely gorgeous – she looked completely perfect.  I think she did an awesome job of masking the outright terror she must have felt because of the pressure and attention.  I walked down the aisle with 35 people watching at it almost ended me… 2 billion and I would’ve needed to be air-lifted down the aisle with a special lacey bridal oxygen tank for good measure.

But my favourite part (aside from the ceremony, my Brit-lovin’-darlings) was the HATS.  Have you ever seen such outstanding hats in your life???  I couldn’t get enough of it.  I still can’t get enough of it… I’m going to have to Google some pictures after I write this.

I want one… a HUGE one.  A hat so big that the person next to me has to move down a chair because my swirly bits of fabric are waggling too close for comfort.

Have any of you lovely ladies bought giant hats or fascinators for weddings or the races?  I’ve yet to join that club… but I think I’m caving fast…

Congrats Wills and Kate!  You’re both gorgeous, lovely and surfing on a giant wave of wonga – the ladies of She’s Not From Yorkshire wish you the royal best! :)

English people DO cry at weddings, but you can tell they’re horrified about it…

As a seasoned-expat, I think I’ve gotten fairly used to the English stiff upper lip.  It used to drive me bonkers when I first moved here.  I found myself wanting to take random Brits by the shoulders and shake them until they were forced to emote.  (Unless large amounts of booze is involved, in which case the stiff upper lip stops being such an issue.)  :)

With wedding season once again upon us, I’ve been a witness to the inner struggle of Brits trying to keep their stiff upper lips locked-down in emotional situations.

I don’t know about you ladies, but I could cry for a living.  EVERYTHING makes me cry, but I don’t mind.  Mr. Nice Guy is used to it (having lived through 10 years of it already).  In private?  Sure thing.  In public?  No problem.  Just set me up with my water-proof mascara and some Kleenex and I’m ready to roll.  Happy as a sad-clam…

Twice this year I was asked to play during a wedding (sitting up front with a full few of the peeps in the pews), and I’ve watched as the lovely Brits start to cave (usually when people are saying their vows).  First their faces harden as the struggle begins.  Lips pressed together, eyes glancing up to hold in the emotion, but it’s a losing battle.  When the first tear falls, they might glance around to see if anyone has noticed.  If the tears keep comin’, a general look of uncomfortable surrender eventually takes place.  Surrender is complete when the tissue-rummaging and tear-mopping begins.

As a side note, I’ve noticed that if other people are already crying, then it’s not such a big deal.  So, American ladies, do your British lady-friends a favour at the next wedding and be the first one to cross the snuffly finish line.

Initially, at these two weddings, I wished I could’ve given them a little slice of my ‘Just cry, it’s awesome and you’ll feel better’ pie.  But the truth is, they don’t really need my help.  Brits been stiff-upper-lipping for generations  - it wouldn’t seem like England without this charmer…

PS – I’m especially excited about wedding season this year because I’m going to be PeacefulYorkshire’s biotch-of-honour at her wedding in the States next year.  WOOOHOOOOO!!! :D

What did you American ladies get from your British men on Valentine’s Day?

We got this comment today about Valentine’s Day gifts and I actually shook my fist at my laptop screen when I read it!!

my husband bought me a cd . . . that he wanted. : ((((((((

yankeebean

Noooooooo!  What ever happened to flowers?  Candles?  CHOCOLATE, for God’s sake!  You can never EVER go wrong with chocolate…

To our sassy commenter, I hope you got him a massage for you for his present…

It made me wonder what all you lovely expat American ladies are getting from your British hunka-hunkas this Valentine’s Day.  Mr Nice Guy and I are making a super fancy dinner together as our present to each other.  Including gin and tonics (our fave) and tiramasu for pudding.  Mmmmm… I’m hungry…

So what did you guys get??  I’m ready to celebrate and/or commiserate with you as required…

She said in a whispered hush ‘Do Americans really only get two weeks holiday?’

yankeebean

That’s the question I was asked this holiday season.

When she asked, the boisterous chatting around the full table stopped and everyone turned to look at me.

I thought I could hear a cricket chirping in the distance….

A tumble weed made up of Twiglets and Quality Street wrappers rolled by…

I paused (you’ve got to revel in these moments.  Information is power yada yada…)

‘Yup’, I said, ‘Two weeks is standard in the States.’

Everyone started talking at once, outraged on my behalf even though I don’t live there any more :) .  People were genuinely flabbergasted…  Everyone threw in their opinions on why that’s rubbish and that 4 weeks holiday is only JUST enough to feel rested in a year.

Then I threw in the information about the major lack of bank holidays and that REALLY got ‘em going…

All the standard follow-up questions were close behind, but I’m not sure I had all the right answers – maybe you guys can help?

The primary questions were:

  1. Is it possible to earn more holiday (To which I answered ‘yes)
  2. How? (To which I said, by working somewhere for a long time or some higher positions come ‘built in’ with more holiday as a perk)
  3. How long do you have to work somewhere to earn more holiday (To which I said, ‘I have no idea’)

The truth is, my work in the USA was mostly small-time retail jobs so I was able to have time off whenever.  Now I’m self employed, so as long as it doesn’t put me out of business, I can have time off whenevs.  I know some of your gorgeous ladies are Brits that have moved to the States – how do you cope??  I have a table full of friends that are dying to know… :)

She is definitely not from Yorkshire: Easter Anybody?

Dearest Readers and fellow ‘Shamericans’, may I introduce the radiant ‘Ms. Forensic Spice’. She is a new guest blogger this week that has only moved to Yorkshire from California.

I was in the supermarket today after a good workout and as I was checking out, an interested checker began to chat me up.

“Where are you from? Why did you come to God awful Huddersfield? What are you doing for the Holidays?”

I began to drone the usual answers but then — Wait…What? What Holiday? I suppose I have been so far removed from any remnants of family that I had completely overlooked that Easter is here? Nope, it’s just a dumb checker. PHEW! It’s only “May Day”.

So join me, all ye transplants from afar, in welcoming this strength building exercise – because if you are alone in Yorkshire during this “May Day” weekend, trust me, you are definitely NOT alone!

Why do British women wear hats to weddings and what is their secret for looking so stylish in them?

peacefulyorkshire

One of our long time blog readers (who calls herself ‘I love this blog)’ wrote us last week. She asks us a question which I am hoping our smart-as -a-whip readers, (like you, my lovely!) will help answer:

I’ve just clicked through a friend’s photo album where she attended a wedding in the Welsh countryside… What’s the deal with women and hats? They look fantastic!

When your British boyfriend asks to marry you, an American woman’s perspective

peacefulyorkshire

” Peaceful Yorkshire, will you marry me? ” said Mr. Chill, my British darling from the Northern lands of Cumbria on his sweet little knees, his hands on mine.

Time froze as on our brown corduroy Ikea couch, his blue eyes waiting. I was sitting very unglamorously in my pink fuzzy robe after consuming a pancake birthday breakfast. Possibilities raced through my mind:

Shocker! Wow- what a surprise – on my 29th- and on our Ikea couch who would’ve thought- I didn’t come to this country to get a British man- I came for my career  -you are actually going to be marrying a Brit if you say yes- I didn’t expect him to ask me-oh, then you shall learn to master the art of a fine Cottage Pie recipe -and he in turn will learn the art of the beauty of a Krispy Kreme-gosh I miss those-

his refined ‘mum’, with all those blue plates of the Queen on her wall, yikes, she’d then be my mothah-in-law, in fact I will now be eating her Coronation Chicken Sandwiches for the rest my dual nationality life- I feel more official -I now won’t  feel so transient- if only we could afford to  have two completely different weddings in two different locales- gal you’re neveh going home-

wait till I tell Yankeebean and Pacificbird- wait until I tell my collegues- they will say ‘lucky you get to stay in the UK for good’ -and what kinds of visa forms we be should be looking at- marrying Mr. Chill means our future kids will be dual citizens- but not until after my PhD is done-

this feels right -this is how it should be-a good feeling -telling the family over the phone just isn’t the same wish they were here – I love him so much -oh my god he’s for real -this is not a joke- he is really asking -wow didn’t think this would happen like this on our Ikea couch- this feels so right- so say yes- say yes….

“YES!”, I said

And that, my dear readers, is the crazy jumble of emotions that went through my head for about 5.5 seconds–while I pondered being a newly engaged American laydeh to an amazing British man– it feels fantastic. I would highly recommend it.

p.s better go update our ‘about page!’