In the United States this is Thanksgiving weekend. For anyone not from this part of the world, this weekend is a difficult one to understand. You might have seen the holiday displayed in movies, where families sit around the table and indulge in over eating from a table covered with enough food to feed a small country. Yes, it is partly that. We eat a lot and much of the day’s festivities revolve around that table time. But it is so much more than that.

As a native, I took the understanding of Thanksgiving for granted. But this year, as more foreigners than natives surrounded me, I found myself trying and often failing, to explain the essence of Thanksgiving.

In a word, it’s all about connections – family, friends. You can’t imagine not being with the people you love; so much so that anyone not surrounded by family and friends on the day will receive numerous invitations to join other people’s Thanksgiving festivities.

It’s a day the whole country understands and celebrates. Unlike Christmas or Hanukah, which is specific to a religious group, everyone sets the fourth Thursday in November aside for focusing on the gifts they have.

Thanksgiving is nostalgic – in a good way. You remember the things that have gone well the year before, the blessings you’ve been given, the people who have made an impact in your life. You remember Thanksgivings past, the time the oven broke and the food needed to be cooked 5 houses down and transported back and forth for the celebration, or the time the turkey caught fire on the grill. You laugh at good memories, you cry at the memory of those who have passed away this year. You go around the table and listen intently as each person lists the things he/she is most grateful for.

It’s something hard to understand if you aren’t experiencing it yourself. But, to me, the day proves that while things here in the US might not be ideal in so many aspects, we as a people still understand the prominence and importance of the people in our lives.

(picture by Norman Rockwell)  

Katie Hinderer

Katie Hinderer is a freelance writer and social media enthusiast. She holds a degree in Journalism from Marquette University. Over the years she has transitioned from traditional publishing...