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My Filipino Families’ Take on Thanksgiving

Every year my family celebrates Thanksgiving in our own little culturally-spiced way. Whether it’s Filipino food substituted in for the traditional turkey, or holiday shopping at it’s finest, my family always has a way with having a great feast during this time of year.

Here are a few traditions that my family do during Thanksgiving and while prepping for the upcoming holiday fiascos!

Chicken, Lechon, or a mix of both

To be completely honest, my family doesn’t really care for the traditional turkey that is used for Thanksgiving centerpieces. Instead, we either choose to have chicken (which I think is practically the same thing as turkey, but others tell me otherwise) or a meaty Filipino dish to match our flavor palettes. Lechon, my personal favorite to have, is a dish where a pork leg or the entire pig is slow roasted in an oven resulting in very moist and tasty meat. This year me and my family are doing chicken, along with a wide variety of other Filipino dishes (palabok, vegetable stir-fry, savory stews) and a few traditional sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie! 

Music, Movies, and Filipino Dramas

Instead of going around the table telling each other what we are thankful for, my family and I blast the music, set up a good assortment of movies/TV shows to watch late into the night, and turn up the volume on my mom’s favorite Filipino drama (very similar to telenovelas) on the TV. It’s a heartwarming environment to be in, especially with all six of us gathered together in the living room. Between feasting on the food in front of us, and the cacophony of television voices and our own, it could look a bit chaotic and intimidating to sit with us at Thanksgiving, but trust me when I say it’s the perfect kind of chaotic!

Holiday Shopping

Over the years, our traditions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday have changed here and there, but this year sparks a new tradition that I’m super excited about. Instead of going to the mall super early in the morning and staying there all day, we plan to (for the most part) shop online this year and skip the possible crowds and busy stores. And honestly, most deals are starting a week in advance from Black Friday, so it’s more like a week-long shopping spree! As if my family and I aren’t going to be still in a Thanksgiving food coma, we’re going to drive across the island to try different restaurants and bakeries (and probably gain a few healthy pounds along the way).

This year has been a crazy one, globally and personally, but Thanksgiving and as the holiday season is among us, I'm thankful for what's in stored!

Aubrey is a second-year student majoring in Public Health and pursuing a minor in Biology at UH Manoa. Being born and raised on the island of Maui, Hawaii, she aspires to help others, focusing on community outreach and underrepresented minority health. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, journaling, and going on picnics/watching films with family and friends.
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