Expat Thanksgiving: Finally Nailed It

This year I didn’t even pretend I was going to cook Thanksgiving dinner. The idea crossed my mind, I looked at our modest kitchen, and thought Heck no.

But I still couldn’t bear the thought of letting it pass by unacknowledged.

“You’ve got to keep your traditions,” people have told me. “They’re still important.”

Are they? I think that they are. Not all of them, but that’s the beauty of traditions – you get to pick which ones to carry on. And this year, I was wise enough to dissect the Thanksgiving tradition as I know it, isolate the important bit, and put it into action.

Spinach balls
Spinach balls: Keeping a Fitzpatrick winter holiday tradition alive.

Important: Getting together with people

Not-so-important: Turkey (I know. I went there.)

Definitely not important: Black Friday ON THANKSGIVING THURSDAY.

I was distressed by the stories coming out of my home country this year. The ones about how stores are opening on Thanksgiving to get a jump on the shopping season, especially because retailers were ‘cheated’ out of a week when the holiday fell a week later than normal this year.

I saw a quote that said something like: “Black Friday: When people fight each other for unnecessary stuff hours after being thankful for what they already have.”

I read a news article where a little girl in line at a Wal-Mart (or somewhere similar) told the reporter that she knew exactly when Thanksgiving was – the fourth Wednesday of November, every year. Her mom covered her ears and told the reporter that the family celebrated on Wednesday so they could shop on Thursday and her kids didn’t realize the truth.


The last Thanksgiving I had in the US was in 2005. I get the hype around Black Friday. There’s a vibe. You want to get deals in before Christmas. I even get Cyber Monday, because I do most of my shopping online and who doesn’t like a sale? But I don’t get the way the Black Friday monster has grown in the last 8 years, to the point where it’s consuming Thanksgiving.

End rant.

The point here is that reading this made me feel a little less empty about missing yet another Thanksgiving, and grateful that I could celebrate it the way I chose to, without outside influences. (Yes, it would be better if I could be in the US with my family, but silver linings are vital to expats during the holidays.)

So Jared and I gathered a group of nine and booked a table at the local Mexican restaurant. Few things scream ‘Thanksgiving’ on a Mexican restaurant’s menu, but the word ‘banquet’ is one of them.

Thanksgiving Margaritas

And, true to the spirit of Thanksgiving, we sat around a long table and the food kept coming. Nearly three hours later, stuffed to the gills, our group was the last to leave the restaurant, waddling for the exit and lamenting our lack of self-control.

Jared and I went home. I changed into stretchy pants and we sat down to watch the end of Harry Potter 7: Part 2. During every commercial break we talked about how full we were but how it was worth it for the good food and company.

Food coma settling in and the main course was yet to come.

I was content.

It was like Thanksgiving after all.

Mexican Thanksgiving
I want it again already.

Similar Posts


  1. I miss Muchos! Especially those deep fried tubby things whose name I can’t even remember but whose taste is burnt into my memory.

    1. Mucho’s is so satisfying and dangerously close to our apartment! I don’t know what those tubby (ha ha auto-correct) things are called either, but now I am craving them. And it is only 9:11 in the morning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *