Thanksgiving is the biggest and most important holiday in the U.S. calendar, and for good reason… It is the only one where you are likely to get a solid four days off work. Many New Yorkers will make the mammoth journey across the continent to be with loved ones, while others will stay in the city to watch the parade and relax with friends. It is a time for cheer and eating yourself silly… For us, it meant the first opportunity to create a Thanksgiving dinner. We decided to go “off piste” by going for a more traditional British roast Christmas dinner – Turkey, roasters, sprouts, mashed swede, carrots with all the usual trimmings of cranberry sauce and onion gravy. A more traditional Thanksgiving feast would involve mashed potato, sweet potato and green beans. Our guests kindly brought two desserts – pecan brownie pie and cherry pie and I provided a wild mushroom and butternut squash filo pie as the vegetarian option.
We are lucky in that we live very close to the start of the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. It starts at 9am, so get your alarm set if you plan to view it on the upper west. Even though we turned up forty minutes before the start there were still plenty of people lining the route already. Fortunately most of the parade is made up of floats and balloons, so it is not necessary to be right by the route. In fact we decided to hold back and view from a slight distance so as not to be too squashed.
The balloons display a confusing message of floating items of food, super heroes and cartoon characters. Big cheers erupted for the likes of Spiderman and Spongebob, and for one moment I thought I was in the movie “Ghostbusters” as a large white character appeared around the side of a building – fortunately it wasn’t the Stay Puft marshmallow man but the Pillsbury doughboy instead. As the snow gently started to fall, the very biggest cheer, and understandably so, was for the finale float, a wonderful creation of Reindeer and sleigh bearing Father Christmas/Santa Claus/St Nick himself. Anyone who has watched Miracle on 34th street will remember this from the start of that movie.
Returning home, with a full roast to cook, we watched the snow fall as we prepared mulled wine and the feast. I have a new found respect for my Mother at Christmas. Cooking a roast dinner should be easy but goodness it takes longer than you expect… However, with our guests arrival, and baked camembert brought out for nibbles, we didn’t have to worry too much about the timescale. The day very much marks the end of Autumn and the start of the run up to Christmas. Just a day after all this, the trees start to appear for sale on the streets, and Christmas lights and decorations make an appearance with more force. Our first thanksgiving in New York ticked, we now can look forward to all the Christmas festivities…