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Thai for Thanksgiving

Growing up, the last week of November always seemed an equal mix of magic and mania. Within the span of several days, my parents and I celebrated birthdays (two on the same day), my parents had their wedding anniversary, and the American holiday of Thanksgiving reared its be-wattled head.

Since moving to the UK, the power of this week has lessened. Family birthdays are celebrated long distance, my own is something I try to ignore as I get further into my fourth decade, and Thanksgiving is difficult to explain to a non-American audience. Especially when “Thanksgiving is bigger than Christmas, right?” is a question I’ve been asked more than once by British friends and colleagues. This causes me to imagine a ranked list of holidays: Christmas at the top, Arbor Day at the bottom, and perhaps Presidents’ Day somewhere in the middle? While Black Friday sales have crossed the pond and taken root, it still takes time to describe the potent concoction of pilgrims and Indians, family and friends, food and football, and their hold on the American psyche.

I found myself mulling over this recently when my husband and I ended up dining at a Thai restaurant on Thanksgiving evening. Rice and mixed veg may have been tasty, but certainly aren’t very traditional. Yet it was a pertinent reminder that holidays are what we make of them: there is no need for shoulds and shouldn’ts, must dos, or has to be done this way and not that. While Thanksgiving is a celebration that has morphed over the years, from the commemoration of a historical event (with turkey) to the kick off of the largest shopping event of the year (with turkey), its core feature is in the very name: giving thanks.

So I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been following along on the blog this year, from my family and friends (hi, mom!), to colleagues and co-workers, and anyone else who may have found their way here. I hope to post more from the recent birthday trip soon – and add a special thanks to my husband for injecting a bit of that old magic and mania back into the last week of November.

Elaine Massung Off the Beaten Track
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