Blog by UCC & Education in Ireland Student Ambassador Elena Montes
When you live a couple thousand miles from home, sometimes the longing for family gets too much. Near-daily Skype calls and texts just aren’t enough to feel truly close to home.
Well, thank goodness for truly amazing friends. This November, winter arrived right on time, bringer of darkness and chapped lips. Along with the 5PM bedtimes and struggle of looking cute in layered clothing came the beautiful Christmas lights and promise of holiday cheer.
For an American, though, there was a noticeable absence: home-delivered catalogs filled with stuffed turkeys and cornucopias. Thanksgiving just doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Black Friday seems to have globalized, but its premise remains very American – as we recover from our food comas from stuffing ourselves with turkey, stuffing and all the sides the previous day, we brace ourselves against the cold to emerge from our slumber in the early morning to buy a whole bunch of stuff we really don’t need, just because it’s cheap. (Yay, capitalism!)
Now, anyone who has done a bit of research beyond their 7th grade history class will know that there are a lot of problems with Thanksgiving. The holiday celebrates a peaceful union between newly arrived settlers and the Natives Americans who taught them how to grow crops properly and survive the winter. The first Thanksgiving was a feast shared by these two groups to commemorate their new friendship. This, however, ignores hundreds of years of history in which Westerners did awful things to the original inhabitants of the lands they wanted, including infecting “gifted” blankets with smallpox and kicking native tribes off their lands, forcing them to walk hundreds of miles to tiny reservations in Oklahoma in what was known as the “Trail of Tears.” These examples are by no means expansive, but you get the point.
However, like many things, I choose to see the holidays as what they’ve evolved to mean. As a non-religious person, I “celebrate” the commercialized Christmas, which is full of gift-giving and love for family and friends. Likewise, Thanksgiving is a day full of laughter, lots of food, and giving thanks (duh).
When my friends suggested they hold a feast in my honor, then, who was I to refuse? And so the first annual (and probably last – sorry, guys) Irish Thanksgiving took place.
Here are the steps for having the closest thing to a family Thanksgiving (or Christmas) dinner while far from home.
Step 1 – gather willing friends to stuff their faces with you.
Step 2 – stroll over your most budget-friendly grocery store.
Step 3 – find the largest kitchen available in student accommodation (good luck!).
Step 4 – cook the food to the best of your ability, calling mom at least three times to ask her how to boil green beans and if water is an acceptable substitute for whipping cream.
Step 5 – eat the best meal of your life, a world away from the cornflakes and ready meals you’ve been surviving on all semester.
And that’s all you need! Go forth and celebrate.