I have a lot of friends who are expatriates. They all go through this same cycle of Americanism. When they first move abroad, everything is so exciting, quaint and cultural. They embrace the differences between their new homeland and their American culture.
Until Thanksgiving comes.
They all go through that shock like someone just tore off their right arm. They know intellectually it is coming, that their new home does not celebrate the holiday and they will be expected to get up and go to work, go to school like it is any other day of the year but emotionally it is quite tragic.
I think it may be that Thanksgiving is the one holiday that defines America as a nation. Or maybe it is a natural breath we all draw as a nation where nobody has any expectations that you be “on call,” where emails can go unanswered and blogs go unwritten. Maybe it is because the holiday is the jumping off point for the winter holidays where we all collectively agree to give ourselves permission to loosen the tie a bit, relax and enjoy a bit of life we deny ourselves the rest of our “24/7-always-on” year.
Maybe it is the permission (or excuse) to relax a bit for the next month that Americans abroad miss most. Without Thanksgiving, when do the Holidays start? When is it ok to relax and breathe?
Maybe the rest of the world does not need a holiday like Thanksgiving. But on the off-chance it does, I say let’s make it an international holiday anyway. Whether to give thanks, eat without guilt or just to take a day and breathe, a universal holiday celebrated the world around can perhaps be the start in joining ourselves to each other.
It’s a thought.
This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about “Thanksgiving’s coming, so what’s it to you?” To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.