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Our Unforgettable First Thanksgiving

We’re not used to this tradition and academic dad once even went to work on Thanksgiving day. He didn’t understand why nobody was around on a Thursday! Later he found out it was a holiday, and a very important one. Some co-workers felt sad that he went to work that day.



As a foreign academic family from Chile, our first Thanksgiving in the United States was a blend of curiosity, cultural exchange, and a deep appreciation for the traditions that make this holiday special. From navigating the aisles of grocery stores in search of unfamiliar ingredients to sharing heartfelt moments with friends and family, our inaugural Thanksgiving experience was full of discoveries and gratitude.


The American Grocery Adventure


The journey into the heart of Thanksgiving preparations began at the local grocery store. As I strolled through the aisles, I found an abundance of holiday-themed displays and many shoppers preparing for their own festive dinner. Our challenge was to decipher the array of ingredients and selecting the perfect items for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.



Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing – these were familiar terms, but the variety of options left us momentarily overwhelmed. We had to resort to the internet and friends to survey for the best recipes and ingredients to get for this celebration. This opened the door to conversations about family traditions and cherished recipes. It became apparent that, despite being foreigners, we were warmly welcomed into the Thanksgiving spirit.


Cooking Traditions and Cultural Exchange



Armed with a shopping cart full of ingredients and a newfound excitement, we delved into the world of Thanksgiving cooking. The process of preparing a traditional American feast introduced us to cooking techniques and flavors that were distinct from our Chilean culinary experiences. From brining the turkey overnight (which took half of our refrigerator space!) to mastering the art of homemade pumpkin pie, each step was a lesson in cultural exchange.


We found ourselves swapping stories with American friends about the typical dishes we enjoyed during holidays in Chile. The contrast between our culinary traditions sparked engaging conversations and created a shared understanding of the significance of food in fostering cultural connections. As we exchanged tips and tricks in the kitchen, the boundaries between "foreign" and "local" blurred and we started to feel Thanksgiving as one of our own traditions.


The Warmth of Friends and Community


As Thanksgiving Day approached, we received invitations from friends to join their celebrations. Grateful for the inclusivity extended, we embraced the opportunity to fully immerse in this holiday and host it ourselves. Academic mom’s parents were visiting and a couple of friends also wanted to come over to share some time with the newly born academic baby.


The aromas of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie filled the air, transcending geographical boundaries. The communal spirit of Thanksgiving filled our conversations, connecting us through shared laughter, stories, and, of course, a hearty meal.


Expressions of Gratitude and Reflection


Some families sit around the Thanksgiving table and express their gratitude. Each person takes a moment to reflect on the blessings in their lives, articulating sentiments that range from family and friendships to personal accomplishments. We decided not to force this to anyone, if someone wanted to do it they were more than welcome, and some did.


As we enjoyed our carefully crafted dishes, we couldn't help but reflect on the beauty of this cultural fusion. Our table, with both traditional American and Chilean flavors, became a representation of the coexistence of diverse backgrounds. The gratitude expressed around the table resonated deeply, transcending our nationality.


Carrying the Spirit Forward


Our first Thanksgiving was an unforgettable experience. Full of flavors, friendship, and gratitude. Beyond the experiences of cooking and sharing a meal, this holiday provided us insight into the power of cultural exchange and the capacity of traditions to bridge gaps.


As we carry the spirit of Thanksgiving forward, we find that gratitude knows no borders. It is a universal language that binds us together. Our cultural differences don’t matter.


Our first Thanksgiving as an academic family in the United States was not just a culinary adventure but a journey of connection and community. It served as a reminder that, regardless of our origins, the spirit of gratitude has the power to unite us all in the tapestry of life's rich experiences.


Happy Thanksgiving!

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