As the leaves begin to yellow and fall our thoughts turn to the holiday season. And with Halloween come and gone, excitement and anticipation build for the many glorious foods that come with Thanksgiving. Despite its relatively small beginnings as a peaceful gathering of colonial Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans of the Plymouth region, to celebrate a successful harvest with a great feast, Thanksgiving has grown into a celebration of American values, a time when we come together with family and friends to break bread and express gratitude to and for one another. Of course, specific traditions vary from family to family. For some, Thanksgiving is best enjoyed with a large dollop of mashed potatoes, for others, a green bean casserole, corn on the cob or pumpkin pie defines the holiday. And let’s not forget about the turkey. Whatever your dish of choice, we can all agree that it is a day for coming together and eating far too much food.
Being far away from family during the holiday season can be difficult, but technology can help us bridge that gap. Today people can stay connected worldwide like never before. A decent webcam and computer can put you square in the living room with the family to watch football, the Macy’s Day Parade, or a James Bond marathon.
Danksagung (Thanksgiving) Dinner
Alternatively, bring a bit of that American tradition to Germany. Come together with friends abroad to celebrate; it could be that you establish new traditions in the process. Now, it might take some searching to find a grocery store stocked with turkeys (Truthähne), but they can be found—just be sure you have access to an oven large enough to roast a whole turkey. A stuffed turkey with no oven is a sad sight best avoided. Also keep in mind that frozen turkey takes time to defrost (see here for more information) so plan ahead accordingly. If you find yourself in a tight spot and without access to a turkey, consider substituting fattened chicken (Masthühnchen) or goose (Gans).
Build Your Menu
Design a meal of dishes that you can eat in Germany while loved ones eat the same back in the states. Introduce elements of German cuisine into the meal to help share your experiences with loved ones. Foods commonly associated with Germany in the US could be added to the meal, bringing a bit of Germany to America. Items such as apple strudel, creamed spinach, bratwurst, roasted potatoes, etc. can easily be integrated into a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and may prove popular enough to make repeat appearances at future holiday dinners.
For those less inclined to enter the kitchen, Germany has its share of restaurants offering Thanksgiving dinner specials. In Berlin, for example, the Hard Rock Café has a Thanksgiving dinner as does Midtown Grill.
As we each take time to consider the many reasons to give thanks, be sure to express that gratitude to friends and family. A phone call, video chat, or handwritten letter—all are suitable methods to send that message. A gift of food is also very appropriate for Thanksgiving, a holiday built around the sharing of food. A package of seasonal treats can show distant loved ones that they remain in your thoughts while also providing some celebratory snacks. Whatever your plan, be sure to eat well and have fun.
Fröhliche Danksagung!Author profile: Jehv Gold, based in NYC, is owner and founder of Manhattan Fruitier, a purveyor of luxury fresh fruit and artisanal food gift baskets for people with sophisticated tastes. His favorite reason to send gifts is to say thank you. His gift giving motto is “Sending a thank you gift is good etiquette and good business.”