My unique Thanksgiving traditions

Natalia Stamatatos, Culture Staff Writer

I always felt jealous of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner growing up as the daughter of an immigrant.

I saw the turkey roasting in the oven and the cranberry sauce simmering on the stove on television and wondered what it tasted like. Scenes from Thanksgiving break looked very different at my house.

My dad is an immigrant from Greece and never celebrated Thanksgiving growing up. My mom, although born in the U.S., moved to Indonesia when she was young.

The idea of eating early in the day and watching football in the afternoon fascinated me as a child. I didn’t understand why Americans had this tradition.

To me, Thanksgiving was similar to any other day. We would eat at our normal time in the evening and then watch a movie or play cards.

We never had a tradition surrounding Thanksgiving, we just used the time to have dinner together.

After Thanksgiving break, my elementary school class shared their favorite Thanksgiving foods. My friends said mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and gravy. At the time, I never had any of these foods. My favorite holiday food was spanakopita, a Greek spinach-cheese pie.

Each year, my mom would try a new recipe. One year, it was mushroom risotto and the next year it would be homemade carrot soup with bread and cheese.

For dessert, my mom often baked pumpkin pie for us, and my dad complained about being too full to eat it. In the morning, my brother would eat the rest for breakfast.

Growing up in America, we are taught to be the same. To wear the same clothes, eat the same foods and have the same interests. If we break away from these norms, we are seen as weird and different. Thanksgiving is a perfect example.

Because I did not adhere to the norm of this holiday, I felt detached from my peers. In America, there may be specific traditions associated with the holiday, but I learned Thanksgiving has different meanings to everyone.

Whether it is about just having a meal with your family, or eating so much turkey you pop a button on your jeans, Thanksgiving is important to people for so many reasons.

I wish I could tell my younger self that eating turkey isn’t so fun. It is the uniqueness of our Thanksgiving which makes it special.