A Sober Guide to American Thanksgiving for International Students


Thanksgiving break is fast approaching, which means it’s the time of year for the president to pardon a turkey (and…announce his colonoscopy to the country?). Your favorite American is here to explain, head super clear. What are my qualifications? Well, first off, I’m American, and second, I have two international roommates to whom I have explained many an American phenomenon such as lack of bidets (cheap toilet paper builds character), Fahrenheit (good word for spelling bees), and American football (needed a practical use for the measurement of yards). I know everything there is to know about this small, homogenous country. Plus, I write better when my head hurts; it’s nature’s motivation.

Ok, so what is Thanksgiving?

The pilgrims’ 1621 harvest was successful because the Wampanoag people were way more accommodating than their guests would turn out to be. To celebrate, the two groups had a big feast to which I am certain they both contributed equally. Nothing bad ever happened between the colonizers and Indigenous peoples after that. 

How many Crash Course videos did you have to watch to make sure that was accurate?

Two. Shut up. 

You had to watch them multiple times, didn’t you?

Only, like, twice. Shut. Up. 

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, I asked my roommate what she wanted to know about Thanksgiving. She did comment on how late I’d slept in and kept asking lame things like “wait, how many shots did you take” and “are you, like, fine?”, but, more importantly, she asked me a question about Thanksgiving: why do you guys eat turkey? 

I definitely knew that answer to that one off the top of my head. Obviously, it’s about symbolism. Turkeys came to America  from…like, Germany? They called it, like, the göbbelvogelschlimschlam or something, I think. But they live here now. They sailed their own boat over because of religious sectarian conflicts in the turkey community. That’s why the President pardons a turkey…something to do with the Turkey Troubles. I think that’s true. Don’t Google it. I’m the expert here. 

 Does that make sense now? No? You know what, piss off; I don’t like the stupid colonial holiday either.


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