Going Home for the Holidays When You Don’t Celebrate 

As the child of two immigrants, I grew up surrounded by people who spoke excitedly of their Thanksgiving plans, from the food they’d eat to the people they’d get to see again. 

My parents weren’t American and we didn’t have any family around, so we never did anything unless we were invited somewhere that someone else was doing something. While as a child I felt more pressured to celebrate the holiday, as I’ve grown I’ve found more peace with doing nothing at all. 

On the other hand, my family’s always been big on Halloween and Christmas (despite not holding the appropriate religious beliefs, but that’s an article for another day). It’s possible that some consumerism plays into this— that Thanksgiving isn’t as easily marketable to my family’s demographics, especially given that my parents have four kids and we lived in the southern US for a good portion of our childhood. Growing up in southern culture emphasized the need to exchange presents on Christmas and dress up on Halloween— our neighbors built a shed for their kids to have a better place to store their toys- the dozens upon dozens that they’d receive from family and friends each holiday. 

In my family, Christmas was done for the happiness of my siblings and I, and our only present-givers were our parents. While we would attend parties, most of it was done in privacy with the acceptance that our culture was different and, despite the very strong and stubborn white culture around us, we weren’t actually obligated to do anything. Whatever we did was for the fun of it. But since Thanksgiving revolves simply around socialization and family, but also food, my family usually skips Thanksgiving because we don't appreciate cooking American food as much. Instead, we treat Thanksgiving like an extended weekend and relax at home.

With the less-than-ideal history that Thanksgiving is entrenched in, I don’t hold a strong desire to celebrate anyways, but my background solidifies it.

My experience is probably not unique to me, and I know many immigrant families who DO celebrate Thanksgiving, but I believe it has to do with how different aspects of American culture appeal and endear to foreigners based on their personal situations. Sometimes it is easier to exchange gifts than gather dozens of people around a table and eat one of the driest meats out there.

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