This week I celebrated my first American Thanksgiving in New Zealand! Despite not having finished unpacking, Pete and I decided we still wanted to have some friends over to celebrate Turkey Day. Our friends accepted the invitation, excited to experience a classic American holiday.
It’s a bit of a miracle that we managed it, given we’re still missing some necessary bits for entertaining. We literally had to go to the store to buy more plates for everyone, and only when we went to cut the bread did we realize there wasn’t a bread knife.
In the true spirit of the holiday, it all came together with the help of our amazing friends. Pete set up the TV so we could play music in the background and everyone pitched in by bringing an appetizer or dessert. I want to give a massive shout out to Dave and Sophie for bringing over dining room chairs so we didn’t have to all sit and eat around our tiny coffee table.
The traditional Thanksgiving menu had to be revised because a whole turkey isn’t something you typically find in New Zealand grocery stores. We decided a roast chicken would do just fine as it had a much higher chance of actually fitting in our tiny oven. Certain recipe ingredients were challenging to find because they’re out of season here right now (NZ is heading into Summer). We ditched the brussel sprout idea and ended up roasting carrots and onions instead. Also, corn here is weird! When it’s out of season, you can find it individually wrapped in vacuum-sealed plastic and each corn ear costs almost $4!
- Warm bread with homemade herb butter
- Salad with feta, walnuts, and a cranberry balsamic vinaigrette
- Roast chicken
- Roast carrots and onions
- Vegetarian stuffing with apples and cranberries
- Fruit salad
Dessert was definitely a highlight. I’d decided pretty early in the planning that I wasn’t going to attempt a pie. We still don’t have a lot of basic baking ingredients like flour or sugar and, if we’re being honest, pies have never been my strong suit. Luckily, I brought over some Hershey’s chocolate, marshmallows, and Graham crackers from the States for when I was craving some American novelties. They were a hit! We didn’t have any way to make a fire but Pete discovered that, with a little patience, holding a marshmallow on a fork over our burner did the trick. After smores, we all headed to the living room to play some trivia.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is going around the table and sharing what you’re thankful for this year. It was hard for me to limit myself to just a few highlights this year.
Of course, I am so thankful to be out of limbo and starting my life in Christchurch. I am grateful to be filling our home with friends, for their help keeping some of my American traditions alive, and their part in keeping the feelings of homesickness at bay. It was so great to hear everyone share their own highlights, including some big ones – like a baby on the way!
I couldn’t have asked for a better first Thanksgiving in Christchurch and I look forward to keeping this tradition going for many years to come!