This year I’m spending the fourth Thursday in November – Thanksgiving Day in the USA – in England with family. Having been in the US now for over a decade, I was curious to see how much of this tradition would have crept across the Pond. My interest was also sparked by a recent conversation with friend and blogger April Harris, who mentioned that unless one is a churchgoer in England, the concept of an autumn harvest festival (with accompanying appreciation for safely gathered crops) really doesn’t filter into mainstream life.
So, I’ve had my eyes open to see what aspects of this special American holiday have been adopted in Blighty. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to see turkey on Thursday’s menu, since the Brits generally eat that on Christmas Day. Equally, it’s a working day for almost everyone here, hence no cross-country drives to descend on relatives. But I thought perhaps some inkling of the importance of taking time to honor good fortune would be evident.
Sadly not. So far, there’s been no sign of pumpkin pie. No newspaper articles encouraging a gratitude list, or a family gathering featuring a deliberate pause to be thankful. Instead, the only mentions I’ve seen here have been of Black Friday: the commercial part of the holiday weekend which I know I’m not alone in finding appallingly distasteful. And the shops here started their “offers” early: I spotted promotional signs on November 12th, and possibly they were around even before that. How disappointing that the Brits have accepted a cultural shift which includes frenzied shopping and shoving, without embracing the thankful part too.
There’s much that comes out of America which the British are (understandably) reluctant to adopt. However, I feel Thanksgiving is a concept worth embracing. April asked her Instagram followers if there should be a form of Thanksgiving in England and received an enthusiastic response. We don’t know if people reacted to the nudge to pause and appreciate, or simply fancied an extra day off. But I do know that on Thursday, at our small family dinner table in a village near Cambridge, I’ll be suggesting that we all notice just a handful of things for which we’re thankful.
Wherever you are in the world, will you do the same?