A Kiwi Thanksgiving—Blending Traditions

Thanksgiving is a big tradition for me and I have many fond family memories of it. Of course, Thanksgiving is closely associated with food and feasting… you can’t think of Thanksgiving without your mouth watering for turkey and dressing, corn soufflé (a favorite in my family), sweet potatoes, and skipping right to dessert… pumpkin and apple pie.

Photo of a roast Turkey

Moving on from the food, it is a holiday that in comparison with Christmas has relatively little commercialism. And that is refreshing. We stop for a moment to think of all that we are grateful for. Sometimes we only touch on surface things but at least it is a start.

Thanksgiving happens in the fall (autumn), one of my favorite times of the year. There are other great fall activities that contribute to the nostalgia—apple picking, visiting the pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins, raking leaves and jumping in them, the smell of wood burning stoves in the air, etc.

My family always hosted a relatively large gathering and we would invite others to join us—students with no family nearby as well as friends and acquaintances who would otherwise be on their own. One of our traditions was to pile into cars and drive down to the nearby beach and take a walk to walk off our dinner. It didn’t matter what the weather was…we were tough!

I have lived overseas before (having spent 4 years in Jerusalem—had a great feast there with expat friends) so I’ve been away for Thanksgiving several times. And have tried to recreate the experience and blend it with new traditions and invite people from other countries to participate. While it’s not the same, it’s still a great experience.

Photo of Thanks Giving in New Zealand

Since coming to New Zealand 2 ½ years ago, David and I have done ‘something’ to celebrate Thanksgiving. We have invited some friends to join us—granted our table was a lot smaller than those who gather back at home. And for dessert, my Kiwi friend brought pavlova--truly a Kiwi classic. And now, for the past two years, our church has hosted a Thanksgiving dinner with many Kiwis curious about this North American tradition enthusiastically joining in.

I hope to continue my new blended tradition and to add to it over the years, especially for my child’s sake. (We’re expecting our first baby this January so next year will be a new experience for us to begin creating our own traditions with our child/children). And one day, I hope David gets to experience Thanksgiving in America and that I get to celebrate with my family once again!

What about you? How have you blended traditions across cultures? Or even within your own family?

Comments on this post (2 comments)

  • rabiya (ruby) says...

    Fond memories with Mr&Mrs.Scott , Mrs.Jackson n many more while I was doing research at Auckland University way back 1981to1983.Turkey dinner, christmas pudding, pumpkin soup, pavalova, cheese cake n barbeques.Not to forget Enid n Don Williams, Glennys O Brien, Prof John Aggett

    On December 10, 2015

  • Ed Callahan says...

    Hi Jennifer and David,
    Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday. Gathering with family and friends for a feast of Turkey and all the trimmings is the best.
    Hope you are experiencing the same tomorrow in NZ.
    Miss you at LLBean.

    On November 26, 2015

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