It’s one of the biggest holidays of the year in America, when both schools and businesses are closed. This year was only my second Thanksgiving, but I’ve already come to love it. Family and friends gather together starting in the morning to prepare food and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live on TV. Everyone then eats a huge feast until they’re stuffed and watches NFL games… the mood is almost exactly like New Year’s in Japan.
(The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a massive, three-hour traditional event that has been held in Manhattan every year for decades. There are celebrity performances, marching bands from all over the country, musical numbers, singing and dancing, and enormous balloons in the shape of popular characters. Santa appears in the grand finale, exciting the crowd and marking the official start of the Christmas season!)
As soon as Halloween is over, whole turkeys are everywhere in the stores. Everyone starts talking about their plans for the big day. Thanksgiving Day itself is busy, with food preparations beginning in the morning. Every family serves something different, but the main dishes in my family this year were a whole baked turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, broccoli casserole, and stuffing.
Everybody gathers in one place and is each in charge of bringing a dish. Once you put a little of everything on your plate, you’ve got a huge pile of food.
Unfortunately, you can’t really tell how delicious everything is from the pictures. I don’t even have words for it… but everything was seriously so good! I’m totally at a loss to describe the stuffing in particular. Put simply, it’s little pieces of dried bread (kind of like croutons) mixed with seasonings and different kinds of vegetables. Every family uses different vegetables, but my family’s recipe calls for celery and chestnuts.
The most special part of all is the slow-roasted turkey. Ours was stuffed with tons of lemon, onion, and other fillings, drenched in herb butter, and wrapped in bacon before baking it. It was so juicy and tender.
Once everything was lined up on the table with the whole turkey, it looked like a movie set to me. I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I saw it. We don’t really eat turkey in Japan, but it’s relatively common no matter where you go in the US. Compared to other types of meat, it’s low in fat and has a mild flavor.
The gravy and sweet-tart cranberry sauce went well with everything, balancing all the flavors perfectly. It’s hard to believe, but there are tons of people in the US that eat so much during this once-a-year Thanksgiving feast that they can hardly move! (The Thanksgiving lunches we make from the leftovers are also really delicious!)
No matter how full you are, though, you have to eat dessert. Some of the most common Thanksgiving desserts are pumpkin pie and apple pie. Of course, the pumpkin pie is made with tons of pumpkin spice!
Stuffing yourself on this gorgeous feast and spending time with friends and family makes Thanksgiving such a warm, joyful holiday.
After dinner, there are plenty of people who go out to chase the Black Friday sales in the wee hours. I’ve heard that some places in Japan have started having Black Friday sales as well, but the discounts on Black Friday in the US are amazing. A lot of people get all their Christmas shopping done on this one day, and it’s said to be the biggest shopping day of the year.
I went out to some stores around noon on the day after Thanksgiving, and found long lines at the registers.
The Monday after Thanksgiving is called Cyber Monday, and that’s when the online retailers offer their deals. There are some great sales on Cyber Monday as well. If you have a chance to visit the US during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’re sure to get some great prices on the things you want. (Just don’t plan on shopping on Thanksgiving Day—most of the stores are closed!)
After Thanksgiving is over, all the homes and stores start lighting up with brilliant, colorful Christmas decorations. I’m always amazed at the quality of the decorations put up by ordinary families—it’s unbelievable that you can drive around and see such wonderful displays for free! All the families get really into it and have a great sense of style, making the nighttime views from the car truly beautiful.
Well, that’s it for this year’s Thanksgiving! Time to put up the Christmas tree and the Christmas decorations… with Christmas music filling the air!
Everyone’s getting excited for December 25th!