Preparing for Thanksgiving & Black Friday

Thanksgiving

Grover from Sesame Street at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (image: jonnyNYC)

by: Grayson Leverenz

Thanksgiving is Thursday November 27, and Brandon recommended I publish the post a couple of days early to give readers time to prepare for the holiday. I thought that was a great idea!

History

Thanksgiving began in the 1600’s with a harvest celebration shared by Native Americans and American colonists. The tradition continued every year at the time of the harvest, and became an official Federal holiday in 1941.

The US Thanksgiving holiday falls every year on the fourth Thursday in November. Typically, businesses close Thursday and Friday, giving employees a nice four day weekend.

Click here for more on the history of Thanksgiving.

Menu

Turkey is the traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast. Preparing a whole turkey takes hours, and starts the day early for many family cooks. Brandon and I love the Food Network chef, Alton Brown, and often follow his recipes. Click here for Alton’s recipe for roast turkey.

Every American has their favorite side dishes to accompany the turkey. Often these dishes vary according to the region of the country where a person was raised. My friend, Melanie, grew up in New Jersey as part of an Italian-American family; they always have traditional Italian accompaniments like escarole soup with their Thanksgiving dinner.

I grew up in South Carolina; so most of my favorite dishes come from the southern United States. First, is the macaroni and cheese. Elbow pasta dripping in cheddar cheese, makes my mouth water just thinking about it. You can find boxed “stir and serve” mac & cheese at any US grocery store, or recipes for fancy mac & cheese made famous by Chefs around the world. But, my favorite has always been the Baked Mac & Cheese on the back of the Mueller’s pasta box.

Second, is the broccoli casserole. Now, my mom would fight me on this recommendation because she prefers green bean casserole. I’ll link to both recipes since we always have both at our house. I make the broccoli; mom makes the green bean, and she is brand loyal to French’s.

Next, is the sweet potato casserole. Made with brown sugar and topped with marshmallows, this dish is more like dessert than a side; maybe that’s why I like it so much.

Finally, is the stuffing. Some cooks actually stuff their turkeys and bake the stuffing as the turkey roasts. For me, this is one side dish I truly do prefer out of the box. In my opinion, you can’t beat Stove Top turkey stuffing.

Ooh, and don’t forget the turkey gravy. It’s a nice topping for the turkey and the stuffing, especially if you don’t like cranberry sauce. I personally prefer the cranberries.

Thanksgiving dessert tends to be more about pies than cakes. Pumpkin pies and sweet potato pies are the most popular. My favorite is another southern specialty, pecan pie. Nobody makes pecan pie like my Aunt Nell.

Traditions

While it may seem like Thanksgiving is all about the food, there is so much more to it than the feast. Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and friends, and to give thanks for everything that makes you happy, healthy and whole. Many Americans go around the table before eating, and name one thing they’re thankful for. It’s such a nice way to feel close to the people you love.

Thanksgiving is also all about American football. Professional teams play beginning at 12:30pm EST, a special tradition because these teams normally only play on Sunday and Monday nights. College teams gear up for the end of the regular season, and often play big rivals over Thanksgiving weekend. If they’re not watching football, many Americans take advantage of the last of the fall weather by playing football in yards across the country.

Another tradition is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Every year, approximately 3 million people attend the parade, and another 44 million watch it on television starting at 9am EST on Thanksgiving Day. The parade features giant balloon characters from American pop culture. 2008 introductions include: Horton the Elephant, Figure With Heart by Keith Haring, Buzz Lightyear, and a Smurf.

Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday shopping season with deals and specials from retailers across the country. Black Friday gets its name from the Business English term “in the black” which signifies when a company becomes profitable for the fiscal year. People line up outside their favorite stores as early as 3am on Black Friday to be one of the first to get the deals. Some retailers offer a higher percentage off from 6am – 9am, and others offer to match deals from any competitors.

Economists will be watching 2008 Black Friday volume very closely. With the current economic conditions in the US, Black Friday spending will be a new indicator of consumer confidence and could reset forecasts for the entire holiday shopping season.

I hope you eat, drink, shop and play to your heart’s content as you celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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  1. Top 5 Things I’m Thankful for in 2009 | MBA in the USA - Cultural insights for international students coming to the US to study - [...] in the USA. I also highlighted Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. Please click here to…
  2. Celebrating Christmas in the USA | MBA in the USA - Cultural insights for international students coming to the US to study - [...] A classic American holiday meal. Click here for my Thanksgiving suggestions; they work very well for Christmas, [...]

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