I kept wondering why there were lots of displays of vegetables and fruit at the Bellagio's Conservatory at this time of year when we toured the Las Vegas Strip. The pieces of the puzzle fell only when Thanksgiving Day arrived: this holiday is the USA's version of a harvest festival!
This was my first Thanksgiving celebration. And I celebrated it with relatives (plus a whole lot of people who I've met for the first time -- they're mainly my cousin's girlfriend's family) in Sacramento. So basically, what I witnessed was the Fil-Am version of the holiday.
As with any feast, there was an abundance of food and of beverages, just as I always see on tv shows. But instead of having a sit-down dinner, we celebrated it less formally: with the food presented buffet-style over lunch and with everyone eating where there's a spot to sit on... very much like the way parties with lots of people are done in my family back home. On tv, the turkey was the star of the feast; but in my family's celebration, it was just one of those served because there were a whole lot of other food on display. Trying to be a good guest, I brought in something I made myself, some smoked salmon and cucumber maki. My mom, on the other hand, prepared the Pinoy classic, pork sinigang. These distinctly Asian dishes didn't mix too well with the Western cuisine and so were saved for later... My cousins eventually had the sinigang with bread because there's no rice!
The people who came before me were right. Thanksgiving in the USA was like Christmas in the Philippines... it's a special time of the year when family ties are renewed and strengthened.