Thanksgiving is a holiday that typically brings huge families together with one enormous mouth-watering meal in the name of saying thanks. However, my family is not huge or American. I don’t have cousins to look forward to seeing or distant relatives flying in from across the country to pick up at the airport. My extended family is relatively small, and it’s difficult to see each other because we live on different continents. Instead, Thanksgiving is my parents, my dog, and me. Our Thanksgiving food sometimes looks different than the stereotypical meal; there are dishes paying homage to our heritage. While this Thanksgiving seems different than other Thanksgiving celebrations depicted in shows, it has not made it any less of a Thanksgiving to me.
While my Thanksgiving is unlike others, there is still fun and quality time. I take this as an opportunity to learn how to cook traditional meals from my heritage and spend time with my parents. Every holiday season, we spend hours boiling a Korean stew that fills the home with scents of miso and spice. I make perogies with my dad, kneading the dough with love and care. My dog Tucker sniffs around the kitchen, desperately trying to find dropped dough and begging all of us for human food. I appreciate the finished product while telling funny stories or gossiping. While we’re not cooking traditional Thanksgiving foods, the food is still the best part of the day.
The dessert is often catered or store-bought (we could be better bakers unless you count premade cookie mix as baking). Pumpkin pie, an essential American tradition, is the family favorite. I love pumpkin pie; if it was a dessert that could be eaten all year, I would eat it all year round. Every year, we buy ours from a bakery in my small town in New Jersey. This bakery is the definition of fall with its warm brown walls and the scent of baked treats, coffee, and cider welcome you when you enter. You can see all the bakers working and decorating behind a glass windowpane. It’s a family-run business that has been in my neighborhood for years. Many families line up to buy a pie or sweet treats from this bakery.
Once Thanksgiving dinner is over, we all watch a movie or show together. Sometimes, there is a vast drama-filled reunion for some reality show that my mom and I will binge, or we watch a Christmas movie to embrace the beginning of the holiday season. Sometimes, we’ll walk Tucker to help digest our meal. We will see other families on the walk, either running around their house or trying to get the kids inside to eat.
It took me a long time to realize that it isn’t necessary to have turkey or a specific tradition on Thanksgiving. Having a wonderful family is all that is necessary for Thanksgiving!