Two Cultures. One Thanksgiving.

I’m sure you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with all the Greeks, family love, and Windex.

I guess you could say my family is something like that. We have family members that have their family members, that also considered your family members. With a family that large, it can make things challenging.  Culture, values, and interests differ.

Enter in the annual “Ashby – Patel” Thanksgiving – filled with two different meals packed into one.

As a child of mixed race (my mom is Gujarati and my dad is American), I’ve always been blessed with being exposed to both. My mom and grandma used to teach me prayers growing up, and take me to Temple from time to time, while my dad encouraged us to go to church and Sunday school – two such drastic cultures that found their way to mesh together.

Our Thanksgiving is much like my childhood – something like oil and water, but somehow it just works.

My mom is always the MVP during the holidays. She selflessly (and without any qualms) prepares two meals.  We help as much as we can, but she does a lot of the preparation and execution.

One for the vegetarians of the family and the other for the “classic” turkey-eaters.

I’m sure you’re probably are thinking, okay so she prepares a turkey alternative, but that’s where you’re wrong. When I say two meals I mean different main dishes, different side dishes (some based on people’s likes/dislikes), and different sauces.

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Traditional Thanksgiving

Turkey (Oven Baked)

Gravy (Made from Turkey Juice)

Greens Beans with Bacon

Indian Thanksgiving

Tofu Turkey

Vegan Gravy

Green Bean Casserole

Handvo (Made by the Patel’s)

Shared Dishes:

Mashed Potatoes

Cream Corn Casserole

Stuffing

Cauliflower (Balsamic)

Cauliflower with Cheese

Salad (one pre-mixed, one with dressing on the side)

Rolls

Cranberry Sauce with Horseradish

Cranberry Sauce

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

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This year we had 20 people at Thanksgiving. Imagine turning your entire living room into a long dining table, and it being barely big enough to fit everyone!

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Whether we have 8 or 20 people around the table, one of our traditions has always been going around and telling each other what we are thankful for, and it wasn’t until this year I realized how important that tradition is.

We are all products of the people we surround ourselves with, the culture we indulge in, and the traditions we create.

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When I was little I’d find myself frustrated that my parents’ backgrounds were so drastically different, because it meant I was never truly immersed in one nor the other. This Thanksgiving I realized how being exposed to both was the thing I was most thankful for.  Some of our traditions come from my mom while others come from my dad.  We’ve created our own blend of culture.

Having “two Thanksgivings” allows us to celebrate both.  In it’s own way the two cultures become my Big Fat Indian – American Thanksgiving.

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