An American Feast in Ireland

Kaitlyn Gervais University of Limerick, Ireland


December 2, 2014

I knew that coming to Ireland in the fall I would miss many things back home, including Thanksgiving with the family. If there ever was a time I suffered the most homesickness, Thanksgiving was the day! This was my first time I would miss out on celebrating the holiday which would include seeing all of my family on my mother’s side, going to grandma’s, making the pumpkin pie and enjoying all the food that took hours to prepare before passing out in the notorious food coma! America really is wonderful isn’t it? Well we Americans abroad were sure not going to let us being in Ireland stop us from celebrating our beloved holiday. If we weren’t going to have Thanksgiving at home, we would bring Thanksgiving to Ireland!

My American roommate, along with her friends and my friends started planning to make our turkey dinner probably two months in advance but didn’t start prepping until the week before. We all chipped in for a decent sized turkey (though nowhere near as big as the ones back home) that I picked up two days before the big day. By pick up I mean I walked to the store, grabbed the biggest turkey I could find and walked back carrying a 12 pound turkey at least over half a mile. But what can I say? I’m dedicated!

I decided I would be the one to cook the turkey. None of us have ever cooked it before so we were a little anxious as to how that would turn out. I also wanted to make the pumpkin pie but Ireland broke my heart when the only pumpkin after Halloween was in baby food. Apple crisp it is then!

Then the big day arrived. Since it isn’t a national holiday we didn’t get the day off so I woke up early, prepped the turkey following very careful instructions I received from my mother, put the turkey in the oven, asked a roommate to baste every 15 minutes as I went off to class. An hour and a half later I came back to the apartment and found the smell of turkey taking over the whole place! I go and check the turkey to find I hadn’t screwed it up yet, in fact it might get done cooking earlier than I had planned! Around this time my roommate comes in to start cooking the mashed potatoes and sweet potato. A little later on, our Irish roommates join in watching us make all the food, asking us questions about the holiday and wishing they could have another holiday before Christmas that allowed them to eat so much.

We also tried to live stream the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. To be honest I had never watched a single Macy’s Day parade but thought it would be a nice change, although I would miss the football. We were unsuccessful in finding a link to watch the parade live so instead opted to watch last year’s parade on Youtube. Still fun to watch the Irish react to the parade. One of my roommates compared the popularity of the parade to The Late Late Toy Show that would air the next day and was a must watch every year with family for Christmas in Ireland (I did end up watching it and loved it).

About an hour before the dinner was scheduled, the turkey was ready. I was so happy that it turned out so well. It will no way ever compare to the amazing turkey dinner my mom or grandma makes but at almost 22 years of age, I have to say it was a good start to many more turkey dinners to come. Then it was 6:30 and everyone had arrived with all the various foods they had made as well. It was safe to say that no one was going to go hungry.

In attendance we had 6 Americans and 3 Irish. I had the honour of carving the turkey which was a bit of a challenge but got better the more I carved. Everybody grabbed their food and sat down before my roommate suggested everyone go around and say what they were thankful for. I said that I was thankful that as a senior in college I was still able to study abroad and get to have an incredible experience in Europe, meeting the wonderful people I was sitting with. Then everyone ate, took selfies and pictures of their food, listened to Taylor Swift (much to my dislike), and had a great time talking with each other. I was even complimented on how well the turkey turned out which was a huge relief to me! It was really nice to be able to sit with friends and have a nice meal, something I don’t get to do often in college.

At about 8 at night I rushed over to my laptop because I finally had an opportunity to Skype my family. I think that was the best gift I received that night. I first talked to my dad and my brother who were getting ready to head out to my stepsister’s home for dinner and watch the game. I then Skyped with my mother which ended up being a Skype conversation with the entire family, and my mom’s friends. My friend Lacye was in the room with me so she ended up meeting my whole family as well! I really enjoyed getting to talk to everyone and answer all of their questions about my trip abroad. I think my mom’s friend about lost it when I told her I wasn’t turning 20 in London on my birthday but 22. Time really does fly in college! I was sad to hang up but I knew that it was less than a month until I would see them again in person.

I ended my holiday watching various Youtube videos with my friend Lacye until we called it a night and went to bed. My dad messaged me later that the Seahawks won the game (YUSSSS). Even though I couldn’t be home for this holiday, it still had that feeling of the holiday spirit, and even so far away, I didn’t have to miss out on Thanksgiving.