Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in Mongolia

The USA has a number of national holidays, Christmas, New Years, Memorial Day, Independence Day, etc., but I feel there is no better holiday than Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is all about family, football and feasting. I have countless memories of Thanksgiving days at different homes of my family. Each was a memorable occasion. No other national holiday compares to Thanksgiving. 
Thanksgiving, sometimes called Turkey Day or just T-Day is a day of thanks following the harvest. Families, friends, communities, and visitors celebrate by having a feast that traditionally involves a roasted turkey dinner. By the way, a turkey is a large, ugly bird, about 5 to 8 times bigger than a chicken. The Thanksgiving tradition originated in Colonial America in 1621 and was informally observed for about three centuries before becoming a national holiday in 1941. It fell on various dates during those years, but since 1941, it is always observed on the last Thursday of November. 
Generally, one American family member will volunteer to have the Thanksgiving celebration at their home
for their immediate family – parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, kids, and in-laws but it also extends to uncles, aunts, cousins, girlfriends and/ or boyfriends. There’s no rule, but it’s mostly just close family. The host family will prepare a large turkey, often around 20 pounds (10 kg), dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, and pumpkin pie for desert. Guests often bring some of those dishes along with wine or beer. The day usually starts early in the afternoon with the guys watching football, drinking beer and eating snacks like potato chips, nuts and cookies. Meanwhile the women work together in the kitchen preparing the meal. It generally takes several hours to cook the large turkey and prepare the side dishes. It’s a lot of work, but well appreciated.
Sometime in the late afternoon, dinner will be served. Everyone sits at a large table to eat. Due to space limitations, children often sit at a separate table – hence the term ‘children’s table’. Before eating, most families will say a prayer together or individually express what they are thankful for over the past year. Then, the eating, talking, laughing, and story-telling begins. When everyone has had their fill, the table is cleared and coffee and desert are served. This might take place up to an hour after eating dinner. At that time, one of the family members may volunteer to host the next year’s celebration. It’s nothing but a great time.
For Ex-pats in Mongolia, Thanksgiving celebrations are pretty remote. Turkeys aren’t plentiful and the one’s I’ve seen are fairly small. I don’t know where or how I’d get or make a pumpkin pie. But a number of Americans do get together to celebrate. I am very fortunate to be friends with folks from US Embassy and was graciously invited to the home of Steve and Kay Burnett for Thanksgiving dinner at Star Apartments. It will by my first one in three years and I am very excited. I know it will bring back fond memories and create very special new ones.
source: The Mongol Messenger newspaper



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