Last week I was invited to a Thanksgiving Day celebration by an American friend. I had never ever experienced any form of celebration on Thanksgiving so I eagerly accepted the invitation and set my mind to work.
I am sure the vast majority of people reading this will find it incredibly difficult to believe that I was once described by a close friend as ‘having mastered the art of being irritating’. As an Englishman abroad it was a fantastic anthropological opportunity. The only drawback was that I had absolutely no idea what to wear.
After some careful consideration I decided that my attire should be suitably respectable for a day of such stern seriousness. My contemplations made several matters abundantly clear. First and foremost I realised that I knew absolutely bugger all about Thanksgiving Day. What I did know is this – it has something to do with Pilgrims or Penguins, and people watch American Football games. So I prepared my lungs to shout touchdown as often as possible and prepared myself to partake in lots of stimulating conversations about the possible extinction of the Galapagos Penguin.
Upon arrival at my friend’s home I realised that hosting a Thanksgiving party is actually a form of masochism on behalf of the host. The man has a number of tea towels attached to his personage as he rushes around trying to raise the guests cholesterol. It’s almost like the host gets bonus points if he can make some explode via a Turkey overdose. For a basic Thanksgiving party for a few friends, its apparent that you require enough food to feed Bangladesh for a fortnight.
Another valuable lesson I learnt that night, as I became more acquainted with an old friend from Tennessee was that Americans don’t actually give Swiss Francs to each other on Thanksgiving day, every time I offered them to guests they looked at me as if I was slightly crazy. Also, I was incredibly disappointed having spent half the day before researching penguins to find that there wasn’t a single person interested in discussing their imminent demise. In fact the only penguins people were genuinely interested in talking about was the Pittsburgheon, a breed which I never even came across during my research.
In my opinion if Thanksgiving Day is to survive and perhaps even cross over into different cultures it needs to adapt to an international audience. Which means the food and alcohol should stay, but perhaps the manner and the reasoning for the celebration should change, after all there is no point having a day which no one understands. Instead it’s title should change every year, as should the rules, that way Thanksgiving Day will only be celebrated by the most devoted followers. Therefore next year rather than giving people Thanks, I shall be giving people DVD’s such as Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan and Big. I am certain that TomHanksgiving day will be an even bigger hit.