An All-American Holiday?

Thanksgiving, the day of giving thanks, is filled with hearty family reunions and celebrated differently throughout the diverse cultures and families at Stuyvesant.

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To me, Thanksgiving has always been the time of year to get a bit too bloated off of turkey and mashed potatoes and have to talk to somewhat homophobic relatives you didn’t know you had. And then, of course, you get to eat frozen leftovers for over a week. But talking to my peers, I found my experience didn’t equate to others’. It isn’t surprising that at such a diverse school like Stuyvesant that bustles with different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, the traditions and normativity surrounding Thanksgiving greatly differ from each perspective.

“The theme of Thanksgiving is giving thanks, but we all know nobody gives thanks during Thanksgiving anymore, hence Black Friday and everything. I guess my parents figured that out a long time ago; we have this long standing tradition where we go to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. Generally the adults would go off and gamble, and we have a pretty good record for winning things. They would just throw cash at the children that they could just entertain themselves with, and we’d just go shopping.” —Xi Lu, junior

“It’s not really that interesting, but this was back when I was in elementary school. I was in my bedroom, which is next to the dining room, and heard my mom yelling. I stepped out to see what was going on and saw that she had a stack of plates in one arm, and used the other to point back and forth at my dad and the turkey that he placed on the dining table. My dad had just come from work and was saying how he was in a rush to get the turkey here, but my mom was not having it. She kept saying how we shouldn't celebrate holidays that don't correspond to our religion. My dad still decided to take the plastic wrap off the turkey, but my mom tried to push the turkey a bit to place the plates, but she it pushed too far and it landed abruptly on the floor. I tried to catch it but I was standing by the other side of table so there was no way for me to dash to the other side on time. My brother heard the turkey fall and came out to ask what happened and yelled at all three of us for being stupid for thinking that Thanksgiving is a religious holiday after my mom explained how the turkey fell. We just cut off the top of where the turkey fell, threw it out, and ate the rest of it. My mom didn't even bother eating with us and just ate some chicken instead.” —Anonymous

“Well, we go to my brother’s god family's house. We bring dishes, they bring dishes; then I had to mess it up in third grade, and I made a really good macaroni and cheese and crème brûlée. I made it and it was really good, and now I have to make it every year. Everybody appreciates the food because they all have to put something in; it’s not just you coming, eating, and then not having to wash any dishes. But even if you cook, you still have to wash the dishes; it’s a whole cycle.” —Asa Muhammad, freshman

“My family does a potluck where everyone goes to somebody’s house and we all cook a dish and then travel to that person’s house. We try to be a cozy family so we all watch a movie and then we eat, but unlike a lot of other families, we don’t really eat classical Thanksgiving food. It is usually more Asian food and seafood. When we were all young, we would all play board games, but now everybody is [an] adult and I am the only kid left who has not gone to college yet, so I talk with all the adults.” —Caroline Ji, sophomore

"My family and I celebrate Thanksgiving in a very casual way. Instead of eating turkey, we have huo guo (hot pot). We have a pot filled with soup on a mini stove at the center of our table. My family sits around the table, and we put in different food ranging from shrimp to vegetables. We then share the pot, where a delicious soup has cooked, and we eat together. It's different from turkey, but sharing hot pot is what really unites my family on Thanksgiving.” —Anonymous