Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Ten things I never knew about Thanksgiving in New York

1. Every Thanksgiving Day, there is a huge parade in Manhattan, sponsored by Macy's department store (which seems to have a monopoly on sponsoring national holidays). This involves, as far as I have been told, huge inflatable balloons of beloved American characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and, er, Spongebob Squarepants. People make special trips into the city just to see the balloons being blown up the day before, and of course on the day itself. Alternatively, you can watch it all in a three hour special on NBC.

2. Thanksgiving Eve is (at least according to my hairdresser) the 'biggest party night of the year'. I have a feeling that this will pass me by....

3. Anyone not partying is furiously travelling around the country trying to get home, just like Christmas Eve in the UK. Apparently this year fewer Americans are flying and more are driving. The roads should therefore be great fun....

4. Also similar to the UK at Christmas, TV and radio takes on a seasonal feverishness, with nothing but traffic reports and items on how to cook your turkey.

5. All the preschools traditionally have a Thanksgiving feast - a lovely idea, I think. Littleboy 1 was asked to bring in 'a bottle of blue cheese dressing'. (When I remarked to an American acquaintance that this seemed a little odd for a bunch of four year olds, she replied. "Yes, it does. I mean, Ranch dressing maybe, but blue cheese..?.")

6. The day after Thanksgiving is known as 'Black Friday' and is when everyone rushes to the shops to start their Christmas shopping. Shops advertise huge deals and the crowds are apparently horrendous. Last year, someone was actually trampled to death at a Wal-Mart on Long Island in the rush.

7. Contrary to many Americans' belief, Black Friday is not actually a public holiday. However, everyone takes it as such. Except The Doctor, who is determinedly going into work so that he can take another day's holiday at Christmas. I only hope there is someone there to let him in...

8. Black Friday is also traditionally when Christmas decorations go up. Thinking that this time we ought to join in, I bought a string of fairy lights for the fir tree on our driveway. (Although The Doctor pointed out that this will require an outdoor extension lead - something that hadn't occurred to me.....I'm just not au fait with this outdoor decoration thing).

9. Stop N Shop (or Stop N Strop) my local hypermarket, actually closes at 3pm on Thanksgiving Day. This is the first time since we've been here that it hasn't been open all day, every day....how will everyone cope?

10. A surprising number of perfectly intelligent Americans do not seem to know that we don't have Thanksgiving in the UK. Why they think we might celebrate the Pilgrim Fathers sitting down with the Indians to have a meal is not quite clear..........

22 comments:

Insomniac Mummy said...

Everyone *knows* that ranch dressing if far better for toddlers than blue cheese...;)

:D

Expat mum said...

What about the green bean casserole? ;-)

Millennium Housewife said...

no 10 really made me laugh! Excellent stuff NVG x

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Ooh sounds like great fun.
Remember to wear your maternity jeans, like Joey on Friends, to fit in all the turkey.

Nota Bene said...

I knew about 1...only because of the Pop Life exhibition at Tate Modern. I like the Doctor's approach...nothing to beat an extended Christmas break

Almost American said...

The travelling started yesterday around here as the local college students all stampeded out of town. Took DH 55 minutes to make the drive home instead of 25.

I have to remind the children that the parade is on tomorrow - they love watching it.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

I loved No. 10. So true.

Enjoy your first American Thanksgiving!

Melissa Talago said...

I lived in Manhattan and never went to the parade. Mad crowds. TV viewing far more preferable.

Loved number 10. You're spot on.

Hope you're got your feast sorted out for tomorrow. Have a good one

Potty Mummy said...

Fantastic - as ever. And how random was the ranch dressing comment? (Or am I missing that she was making a joke?)

Mud in the City said...

The Dr hsa the right idea... and best not start a debate on green bean casserole - have you SEEN the arguments over at Expat Mum's!! Unbeliveable!

nappy valley girl said...

IM - Of course, it's obvious, right?

Expat Mum - Yes, I should have put that one in, shouldn't I, just to get some furious comments. I could increase my blog ranking in one fell swoop!

MH - And it's perfectly true...

Confused - Ah, I'd forgotten that Friends until you reminded me! It's amazing how much of our knowledge of the US is gleaned from TV shows...

NB - well otherwise he only has 1 day off at Christmas! They ain't generous with the old vacation days here.

AlmostAmerican - yes, I think I'll have to watch a bit of it. I see that Ronald McDonald is appearing this year!

Brit in Bosnia - thanks, I'm feeling realy quite excited about it now...

Melissa - we're going to a friend's house. She's German, but cooking an All American feast. Yum....

PM - No, she definitely wasn't joking. (Maybe in her house toddlers really do eat ranch dressing!)

Mud - I have indeed and even got dragged into the fray at one point. Who knew that green beans could be so controversial?

Nicola said...

First let me just say that in my experience kids are brought up on Ranch dressing over here! So no - it wasn't a joke. Just watch out for the adverts Nappy Valley - all the kids helping themselves to buckets of Ranch dressing to smother lettuce leaves in. Eurch.

The other thing in my experience about Thanksgiving is that heaps of foods and a multitude of side dishes are prepared, typically over an 8 hour period minimum, and yet - even given the effort taken over this culinary feast almost none of it is served piping hot straight from the oven. The majority of it languishes on counters, waiting for the gravy or the last minute cornbread or some other essential and then eaten luke warm, or in some cases, cold.

I cannot imagine the stick my mum would have received if she had ever dared to serve up a luke warm Sunday roast or Christmas dinner.

Is this just me? Am I the only one that thinks this is really strange....and totally disagreeable?

Anonymous said...

How can you NOT have known about the parade...did your parents never have you watch 'Miracle on 34th St' as a child? !!!

A Modern Mother said...

My you have been learning lots in the past few months. I can explain 10 -- they get it mixed up with the Harvest Festival -- a big deal in the UK, but church related, which you can't do in the US because of the separation of church and state. Harvest Festival is really where the Pilgrams got the whole Thanksgiving idea anyway ...

nappy valley girl said...

Nicola - thanks for shedding light on the Ranch issue. Those ads must have passed me by. Mind you, sadly my boys wouldn't touch a lettuce leaf with a barge pole, so I don't think we'll be partaking of the Ranch dressing just yet...

Anonymous - Actually I have never seen it. Possibly it was never on in Hong Kong when I was growing up. I only ever remember seeing the Sound of Music on Christmas day....

Susanna - aha, that makes sense. I knew there must be an explanation!

Anonymous said...

I've never met an American who thinks other countries celebrate our Thanksgving.. It sounds to me like you watch an awful lot of our tv and believe everything you watch...and i don't know anyone who serves the greenbeans, ugh!

nappy valley girl said...

Anonymous - In response to your comment (which I am not quite sure I understand): Yes, I really have met several Americans that think we might have Thanksgiving in the UK. None of the above observations come from watching TV (of which I watch no more than an average amount). And I didn't even MENTION green beans, except for responding to comments.....what is it with these green beans?

Vinogirl said...

I work with more than several Americans who think the UK celebrate Thanksgiving!

Jenny said...

What's with the mean comments this week? I've had quite a few friends and family ask me if businesses are closed on Thanksgiving. I was prepared for this, as most everyone I knew asked if they did anything to celebrate 4th of July in England. If you don't know that one, you wouldn't know Thanksgiving either, would you? Mostly people just don't think about it I think, the reasons why we (in the US) celebrate things. Once you remind them the actual origins of it, they're like "oh yeah!" and feel a bit silly.

Oh, and my niece, starting at about 1 years old, would only eat (anything) dipped in ranch dressing - chicken, cheese, hot dogs (yeck!), vegetables. She's nearly 3 now, and while she doesn't have to have it in order to eat, she still loves it. I don't think she (or a lot of small children) eats lettuce though, so I do think having a salad (I assume that's what the blue cheese was for) seems a bit extreme for a pre-school meal. But at least in the scheme of what they could've asked you to send was cheap and easy.

Marta said...

Hi there! Very interesting post! I've just visited your blog for the 1st time and I love it! Tomorrow, I'm going to celebrate Thanksgiving with some American friends. I am very curious and can't wait (I'm from Barcelona, Spain, so Thanksgiving is just something I've seen in movies). Have a happy weekend!

nappy valley girl said...

Vinogirl - I'm glad it's not just me imagining things, then....

Jenny - I think you're spot on, it's more about people just speaking before they think than really not being able to work it out. (And, yes, I was perfectly happy to supply the blue cheese dressing; it just gave me a laugh, that's all!).

Marta - thank you for your lovely comment. I hope you had a really wonderful time.

Mom/Mum said...

Hooray we had Thanksgiving with NO green bean casserole. I honestly don't know why anyone serves it as all the Americans I know seem to hate it too!
Loved no.10 - SO TRUE!!! But I did have to laugh when one of my best girlfriendshere (who is American) said to me on Wednesday, "You know, we decided that you Brits living round here are the closest thing to Pilgrims me and my husbands know!"