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 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.

Teaching the English how to give thanks


67% – Hell yeah! I’m having a big bash and educating the masses.

25% – I don’t know, but I’m so homesick that all I wanna do is eat Mac and Cheese or Hershey’s Peanutbutter Cups… and I want to talk to my Mom.

8% – Nope, when in England, do as the English do.

0% – I’m going back home for Thanksgiving! WOOP!

0% – I’ll have turkey, but it’s going to be a quiet one this year.

The results of the Thanksgiving poll are in!!  It seems the majority of you are determined to, not only celebrate, but drag English people along for the ride.  A whopping 67% of you held your very own Thanksgiving bashes.  Hoorah!!

I had a few people over for Thanksgiving dinner (English neighbors and stuff), and it was awesome.  I could do no wrong because I’m ‘the expert’ (ha!).  If anyone corrected my pronunciation or terminology, I ‘won’ because it’s my holiday and so everyone just went along for the ride.  And by the end of the night, some of the Brits were pronouncing things the American way… y’know… for authenticity :)

Also, by the end of the night, everyone seemed agreed that England should seriously consider adopting Thanksgiving as a holiday, too.

It’s only a matter of time now… we must keep educating the masses!!

Thanksgiving in England


Us three Ameri-brits ususally trade writing so we each write one once a day… but today isn’t just ANY day, it’s freakin THANKSGIVING!!   WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!

This is officially my fourth Thanksgiving in England.  Since I arrive on ‘the island’ I’ve been determined to build my own mini-tradition here because home-sickness is such a beast this time of year.

I remember my first Thanksgiving/Christmas I spent here after I moved for good.  I was just so glad when it was over… I cried so much I kept expecting my face to crinkle up and cave in from lack of moisture.  Poor Mr. NiceGuy, he worked so hard that year to keep me happy in an impossible situation.  Even the SIGHT of a Christmas pudding made me cry that year.  WHY??  Because I empathized with the raisins???

The thing about Tradition is that you have to work at it.  Thanksgiving comes but once a year (thank God), so it takes forever to get traditions up and running.  But I’ve got it on the move!  Four years in and I’m still yolked to my home-sickness, but I’ve got traditions to attend to… no time to sit around and mope!! I’ve got to…

Go to Starbucks and buy my first Christmas red-cupped sugar-laden coffee extravaganza

Watch Miracle on 34th Street (the original, black and white, YEAH!)

Get the house ready for the Thanksgiv-ers that are invading tonight.

Put the tree up and the lights and all that gubbins

Find all my Christmas CD’s (and probably buy some new ones)

Walk around and look at all the Christmas decorations in York

and much more…

Hooray for traditions!  Since the alternative is missing my family so much that I start to rock back-and-forth slowly like a crazy person.  The JOYS of being an American in England…

Better get started!!!

(ps – tune in tomorrow for the result of our Thanksgiving poll!)

"I hate eating turkey" says English boyfriend to American girlfriend on Thanksgiving

yahooavatar15Yawning, Stretching, and wishing the alarm wasn’t so early, 200,000 Americans will wake up in Britain today. (Gosh, can you believe there are so many of us here?)

Today, we will have one thing in common, because its Thanksgiving back home!

An interview:

“What is Thanksgiving again?” says Mr. Chill, my loved-up Northerner.

“Is it a festival of  Thanks or something? I remember seeing it in John Candy films. It sounds like a sneaky marketing opportunity. Am I going to be quoted on your blog about this?”

“Oh honey”, I say, “We’ve had this conversation last year– its where people celebrate what they are thankful for, remember?”

“Well, I hate eating turkey”, he says. “Its one of the ugliest creatures on the planet. Its so ugly it makes me sick to think of eating it. Its head is too small for its body and it has a bingo wing for a chin. If someone has said that all turkeys on this planet were going to be extinct, I wouldn’t be sad, I would even rather see rattlesnakes survive. Actually this is not a bad idea. Who were the pilgrims again? Is it a celebration about when they landed or something?”

So thus I start to explain why us Americans celebrate thanksgiving.

“When the pilgrims first landed upon our shores they encountered the first native people, who shared with them their harvest so … wait, look, here is a picture from google images!”


“Hang on” he says, “What went wrong? I thought the pilgrims shot them all and became your gun-crazy Americans?”

“Never mind…”, I say, and give up trying to explain the logic of it.

This will be the first conversation of many that I will have trying to explain our Thanksgiving celebrations today.