“A turkey never voted for an early Christmas.” Irish proverb
I can only imagine the dismay of the Irish turkeys when they find out that a few crazy Americans have imported the Thanksgiving holiday along with their accents, reality TV, and pretzel products. This past Sunday, my American friends Ellen and James hosted an early Thanksgiving in their new apartment in Dublin. Their first Thanksgiving away from New York was a highly anticipated event. The other guests were all Irish including second cousins and old and new friends. Everyone was excited to see what Thanksgiving was all about. Our hosts read aloud passages from the original Thanksgiving Proclamation from William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony in 1623. And then we ate all of the classics with a few twists – turkey breast (here, it’s the turkey crown), ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, along with pumpkin pie and key lime pie for dessert. And we had the stuffing that I made that morning from a box from Trader Joe’s that I had brought with me. The stuffing was declared “gorgeous” by all, and I tried to explain Trader Joe’s, but I think it was lost in translation. I ate at the table with Berna and John and Mary and Brenda, all charming and friendly. The usual topics came up. Someone said, “Bono writes songs?” so I had to defend him once again. It’s a job I’ve taken on gladly! And we talked about Bob Geldof and his daughters, and Brooklyn, the movie and the book, and Hozier. “He has terrible diction,” Brenda said with a grin. No worries, I defended him too. And then all the questions about Philadelphia. I tried to explain cheese steak sandwiches and soft pretzels, but I don’t think they could ever really understand. How could they? Everyone wanted to know about our famous sons and daughters. I started with Sly Stallone first for some reason, followed by Kevin Bacon, and then for reasons unknown I thought of Betsy Ross – no one had ever heard of her – and then luckily Grace Kelly came to mind. But the crowd went wild when I named Bradley Cooper. It seems Bradley’s appeal is universal.
I had experienced this sense of curiosity and wonder about Thanksgiving from the three young Korean women who were volunteering their time at Oxfam. Minkyung, Younjung, and Soohie were so interested in learning more about American culture and they told me that they couldn’t wait to read about what Thanksgiving is really like. (They liked to giggle at silly things that didn’t quite make sense to them – things like “size zero” and the “no. 1 gift” stickers on the Christmas socks.) Thanksgiving is really very simple to explain, but like everything in life, it has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. Thanksgiving is the ultimate American holiday – a day of going home – a day of food, friends, family, and football. But most importantly it’s a day to give thanks. And because the food, friends, and thanksgiving are in Dublin, I realize it’s a moveable feast.