An International Thanksgiving

Hello all! For those who are new here, three months ago I moved halfway across the world in the middle of a Pandemic in order to start Grad School in Sweden. And while it has certainly been an adventure, one of the most interesting things that I had not even really expected was in how different the holiday celebrations would be here in Sweden versus in my home state of Florida.

So – what does Thanksgiving look like in Sweden?

… a Thursday. It looks like a thursday.

In case you were unaware, Thanksgiving is a specifically American Holiday. As in – no other countries celebrate it (with the exception of Canada, but that’s a different story). There are a variety of fall and harvest festival celebrations taking place all around the world this time of year, but Thanksgiving as a construct, involving Turkey, football and naive childhood plays involving pilgrims and native populations, was a holiday that was born in the USA.

To be honest, Thanksgiving has almost completely snuck up on me. It is now two days until turkey time before I even realized the holiday was right around the corner.

In a perfect world, I would invite my friends and family over to my dad’s house and host a full-blown traditional American Thanksgiving complete with 12 hours of cooking, a whole roast turkey, and enough carbs to sink the Titanic. And while I would love to go all out celebrating an American holiday in the middle of rural Sweden… your girls got homework and a research project underway and absolutely no time to be dealing with all that.

Also, Swedes don’t actually sell the whole turkey? At least not that I’ve been able to find. Or really turkey in almost any form other than sliced deli meat.

So if I’m skipping the epic feast, then what Thanksgiving traditions will I be keeping up?

Spending Time with Family

While studying in Sweden I’m living with my dad so he’s gonna see me whether he likes it or not. If I get done with my work early enough though we may stream a movie together later, usually Die Hard is a fairly standard holiday staple in my house, although I wouldn’t say no to a few episodes of Hanna, so just some warm and cozy over the top violence and explosions… that’s normal, right?

Cooking and Eating Together

Well… does microwave leftovers count as cooking? Normally by the time I get home from Linkoping after an hour-long bus ride and biking uphill, it’s pretty late, but we’ll usually sit together and chat, and often times he’ll have something kept warm on the stove for me.

I might try and make something this weekend if I can actually find a darn turkey. But more than likely it will end up being a low carb version of a chicken pot pie or shepherds pie (swap out the mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower) because my dad is currently on the LCHF diet and… as a consequence of living together, so am I. If you haven’t heard of LCHF, imagine the love child of Atkins and keto, but a little less restrictive.

Remembering What I’m Thankful For

This is one tradition I will definitely be keeping.

This time last year I had a new nephew in the world, was struggling to balance two jobs with publishing my kids’ books and going back to school for about the millionth time. I was just barely considering even applying for grad school. I never in a million years could have imagined any of the struggles that would be thrown our way in 2020, but then again I don’t think anyone could have. To have gotten through most of 2020 with my health, my sanity, and my family is a blessing that I can’t ever be grateful enough for. To be in Sweden, studying in a field I am truly passionate about, with an opportunity to make a lasting positive impact in the world… this is something that I will never not be thankful for.


Wherever and however you celebrate, despite it’s less than gracious beginnings, the idea of Thanksgiving as a modern American holiday is something I can really get behind. It can be hard to slow down and recognize how far we’ve come and everything that we have in a world that is perpetually pushing us ever forward and constantly encouraging us to do more.

So take a moment, look to the people you are able to spend this holiday with, remember those you can’t, and appreciate everything that can… preferably while also enjoying some turkey-related foodstuffs and American football.


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