An Expat Thanksgiving Dinner

Last updated on November 19th, 2023 at 12:16 am

One of the hardest things about being an expat is when it comes to the holidays especially a holiday in which your new country doesn’t celebrate. Yes, it’s sad to be so far away at Christmas but at least we are surrounding by all the festivities still. When it comes to Thanksgiving it’s an erie feeling not be told Happy Thanksgiving all day wherever you go. I can’t quite describe my feelings on celebrating it here in the UK.

Thanksgiving In England

It used to be one of my favorite holidays of the year mostly because it’s another time my huge family came altogether to laugh, have fun and be thankful for one another. Each year in England my experience with Thanksgiving has been different. I have had it with Mr P’s family who humored me the first year, I have had it with friends, I have had it in restaurant with Mr P and I have had it alone at our old house just Mr P and I. I was always just thankful to have a good time with loved ones but this year with two tots my feelings on Thanksgiving changed. 

Spending Thanksgiving As A Family

I now had my own complete family to start Thanksgiving traditions with. I now had two toddlers at the table to eat and enjoy the turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings with Mr P and I. I had my own children to laugh, have fun and be thankful for. So I did what my mother used to do and I cooked up a storm. My very first official family Thanksgiving with my children in our new house. 

A table set for Thanksgiving dinner as a family of 4
Food on a table set for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner

While that sounds more magical than ordinary I assure you it was very much both. The food wasn’t anything hard – that’s another reason I love Thanksgiving so much. Turkey, mash, gravy, stuffing, vegetables, hot rolls, are all easy to make and so hearty, my kind of food. A dinner that I probably make a few times a year but just not as much. There is something so great about stuffing your face all day with a great excuse, it’s Thanksgiving. 

A toddler crying

Thanksgiving With Toddlers

Along side our feast my two toddlers made sure to keep this grand holiday ordinary for us. There were tantrums of… I am not hungry and I don’t want to sit with you at the table. 

Buba refused to eat or even look remotely happy as we sat together for the very first family Thanksgiving in our new house. Missy Moo loves her food too much to ever take her eyes off of it, not even for a split second to look at the camera. I took a picture to show Buba his behavior when he is older.

In so many ways it was like every dinner night, the four of us sat there which I am so thankful that we get to do, night after night. I know some families don’t get in from work until late and don’t get this opportunity regularly. It’s something I will NEVER take for granted. It’s the time we bond with our kids, we laugh with our kids, we laugh “at” our kids, we share our adventures and our dreams together. Dinner time can be chaos as you can see here with little ones but I am still so very thankful we do it together. 

Thanksgiving As An Expat

On the other side, in so many ways it was the perfect Thanksgiving. The food was great. *patting my own back. I had my little family all together to be thankful for and the beautiful roof over our heads. My parents FaceTimed during dinner and we let the kids chat away at them while we ate. It was like having them with us (although virtually) at the table. My brothers all FaceTimed and it really felt like a great Thanksgiving. 

A Dose Of Reality

Even when I was talking to my Momma about something and facing the computer and felt something warm and mushy on my arm and my Momma was in hysterics told me to look what Missy Moo was doing behind me. I assumed it was just her gooey wet hand on my arm but in reality I turned and found that she can grabbed a fist full of mash potatoes from the bowl and was smearing them up and down my arm from top to bottom laughing hysterically as was my Momma. I couldn’t help but join in and laugh with them. Mr P couldn’t believe what was unfolding in front of him. I said, “what this, that’s a typical day with MM, messy!”

A family sat at the table for an expat Thanksgiving

As you can see I don’t go lightly on Thanksgiving. My plate was bursting and I may have had seconds and a few desserts on top of that. Why not? Tis the season to have gluttony… oh sorry I mean be jolly. Falalalalala

A plate filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, peas and sweetcorn for Thanksgiving

We ate our yummy Thanksgiving dinner like the dinner the night before and night before that, but we made it extra special by sharing what we are grateful for. What we appreciate in life on a daily basis. What are dreams are and how much we loved each other. That’s what its all about, loving the ordinary moments as much as the big ones. Don’t let life pass you by without stopping and taking it all in! 

20 thoughts on “An Expat Thanksgiving Dinner”

  1. This actually made me get tears in my eyes Jenny, I don’t know why but you describe it so perfectly. It sounds like a great Thanksgiving and it is wonderful that you are starting these traditions with your own family- great that you got to FaceTime your family from across the pond too. I also like how you have been honest about Buba and having a tantrum, they all do it but I can bet you will look back on these memories so fondly. In a weird sort of way I wish we did celebrate thanksgiving over here- it is so lovely to spend a bit of time realising just how lucky we are- I am thankful every single day. The food looked amazing too- well done you! x

    • Oh thanks so very much Katie. It was lovely and yes have to be honest I laughed when Buba was in complete melt down. And I should have added that I continued to be merry and bright and sing really loud over his wails ignoring him. It was thanksgiving after all. lol Got to celebrate come high or hell water. lol I think many years I just missed my family too much to make it what it should be here. Now with my kids I want them to have what I had. And we do and will!

  2. I don’t know much about thanksgiving, but it’s great to hear that you can continue this tradition in your own way with your family. I think the food looks great too! xx

    • Thanks Emily. That’s very sweet of you. I think for many years I was just missing home and what it used to be and not making what it should be here. I am now!

  3. Sounds absolutely fantasically perfect even with the tantrums and everything. I think this is what makes the best memories and stories in time to come doesn’t it? It sounds like a brilliant holiday and one we could all do with thinking about what we are thankful for!

  4. Aah I am actually envious of Thanksgiving and wish we celebrated here too, it always seems like such a nice holiday, to be thankful for friends and family! I have an American friend from Minnesota who used to live near me before she, her husband and little girl moved back- I really miss her and her tradition of making us all Thanksgiving gifts. Maybe it’s something we can try and start here! x

  5. Happy belated Thanksgiving! Looks like you had a lovely time {mins the tantrums, but thats normal when you have kiddies!} I love the fact you continue the tradition and hopefully when your children are older they will too xx

  6. Oh lovely bab. The best thing about having a family is being your own little crew and just all being together. That is my favourite thing about this season. Being together and in a weird way it makes you feel like a proper Mum doesn’t it? You are making memories for your kids and how special is that? x

    • It really does. Thanks emma. So right. I am doing what my momma did and that feels amazing and weird at first. Hope my kids have great holiday memories like i do.

  7. Happy Thanksgiving – a little belatedly I know! I can’t imagine how it feels to be living in a country that doesn’t celebrate one of your major holidays but I think you’ve done a wonderful job in making your own family traditions – and do I spot Yorkshire puddings making a token Brit appearance!!


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