I wonder how foreign tourists feel in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day. Do they search for “local” flavor the same way backpackers clamor for an obscure, off the beaten path scene during an overseas festival? Fireworks and tango in Spain; paint-throwing in India. Here, it’s “We need to find a down-home American family cooking turkey, cranberries and potatoes. We’ll watch football and gorge ourselves. It’s a tradition!”
Even living here for five weeks, we remain tourists in NYC. So, waking to falling snowflakes on Thanksgiving Day, we did what any red-blooded New York visitor does: shouldered through crowds to watch the Macy’s Parade. And as Spiderman, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Sponge Bob Square Pants floated by on Central Park West, we mashed in with everyone and laughed at the scene, chatting amiably with people.
Stomping our feet to stay warm, holiday cheer jingled in the air. Balloon sellers hawked replicas of the floats; kids perched on police car roofs, gaping at the floats and cheering at marching bands. Eventually, Santa’s sleigh slid by followed by giant red stars proclaiming “Believe” and the holiday tradition finished. Sporting smiles, the crowd dispersed to watch the Bears and Lions face off and roll their eyes during drunk uncle Henry’s rants about how the Democrats are screwing everything up.
Last year, we spent Thanksgiving hiking and camping in California redwood groves. Enjoying it with a million people in Manhattan is 180 degrees (and a lot of biking) away. And it’s all good! Because even as a tourist, when you’re in the middle of a country’s tradition, holidays knock down walls. People are more gracious when lights twinkle in storefront windows. Everybody says “happy holidays” after a short conversation with the restaurant table next to them. And if a parade of inflated icons facilitates that in a busy city like New York, sign me up.
Hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving!
P.S. Join us in celebrating Buy Nothing Day today on Black Friday to focus on friends, family and experiences instead. Here’s the Minimalists’ great post about it.