Gathering for Thanks — The North Star Reports – by Cheyenne Lemm. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Gathering for Thanks — The North Star Reports – by Cheyenne Lemm. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal


This year I was one of the cooks for my family’s big Thanksgiving dinner. I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility and a lot of pride that I am now a full-fledged, turkey-basting adult. There was a moment of stress when I realized that the eighteen pound turkey would take a bit longer than four and a half hours to cook, but because we wait for everyone who is expected to arrive before eating, it was done right on time. We ate as soon as everything was done so I didn’t get the chance to photograph it, though it looked as good as it smelled and tasted.

Thanksgiving dinner has always been an important time for my family to meet up and spend time together. In fact, it is not only a holiday but there are also five of us who celebrate birthdays during this week, myself included. Since we get a turkey we usually don’t do the cake and ice cream that many people are accustomed to. But other than birthdays, I have wondered why so many family members get together at this time.

The first factor that contributes to our gathering at the end of November is that it is convenient and expected. Thanksgiving used to be about celebrating the end of the harvest in my family, as we live in a very agriculturally based region. Now with winter coming we use it as a way to keep in touch before deep winter sets and it will be too cold to start our cars.
I am biracial; one part of my family is white and rooted in Finnish and German traditions while another part celebrates their American Indian roots. This year we had the full spread on the table. Turkey, cranberries, rolls, corn, black olives, yams, wild rice, apple and pumpkin pie, and my favorite– stuffing. Other than the olives, all of these foods are things that can be grown in or around Minnesota. I especially like that we always have wild rice at our Thanksgiving dinner. Native foods like wild rice and fry bread have helped my family remain tied to our American Indian heritage.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at)

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at)


Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

20 responses to “Gathering for Thanks — The North Star Reports – by Cheyenne Lemm. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

  1. David Miller

    I have to say I am kind of jealous that you get to take part in cooking the Thanksgiving meal. Parents cook the meal for my family on Thanksgiving, but slowly but surly us kids are being eased into the roll of cooking the meal. One major aspect of my family thanksgiving gathering if we spend about three hours to catch up with everyone and FaceTime those who were unable to make it.

  2. Katy Goerke

    Your Thanksgiving Dinner sounds amazing. Having a multi-cultural twist on your meal seems to make it special, where-as my family while attempting to follow Martha Stewart’s advice on the perfect Thanksgiving has created a cardboard cutout holiday, that no one wants to go to but everyone feels obligated to attend.

  3. Carley Henning

    Reading your blog, I felt like I was reading about my family Thanksgiving as well. We have an assortment of food which ties back to our ancestors and where they came from but we also have the usual stuffing and cheesy potatoes to go along with the American side. We also like to celebrate birthdays as well but we usually have cake and ice cream to go along with it!

  4. Evangelista Chicheko

    As an international student, it kind of took me long to understand the whole concept of Thanksgiving. However, after being invited to spend that particular holiday at my friend’s place, I finally got the hang of it. I am pleased with the whole family gathering and bonding that happens during Thanksgiving. You are able to see your family and in your case, celebrate 5 birthdays, wow!!! I am glad you have such an experience and also that you got to cook for everyone.

  5. Becca

    I wish my family did a meal that tied back to our ancestor’s roots. My great grandfather was half Native American, but at the time and place, it was taboo for my great grandmother to marry him, and she never talked or talks about his heritage. I was never fortunate enough to meet him, but I would have liked to learn about the heritage and culture, as it wasn’t something that was passed down to me. I like the idea of using food that’s been grown around or in Minnesota. I know that when my great grandma used to host Thanksgiving, much of the food was made from scratch from ingredients on her farm. She’s to old to host now, so we all go to my great aunt’s house and each family brings one or two dishes.

  6. Hannah Kunde

    With all the hoopla surrounding commercialized holidays, it was nice to read your article to show that one of the biggest parts of holidays is to surround yourself with the people you care about. I especially think that the work and effort that goes into a meal also shows how much someone means to you. For my family, holidays are the few times to see everyone and I think sometimes we take that for granted.

  7. Benjamin Carlson

    As an avid food fanatic, I find the preparation of the meal to be almost as exquisite as the meal itself. From a young age, I found myself in the kitchen baking cookies with my mom, and, from that, stems my love for cooking. I’m glad to hear families coming together and reconnecting after long periods of time away, Good food, good conversation, surrounded by the ones we, there is no happier place to be.

  8. Andy Lawrence

    This is an awesome story. I cooked Thanksgiving for my family one year and I remember the stress that came along with it. Thanksgiving is revolved around food and if the food isn’t perfect it can ruin the holiday in the cook’s mind.

  9. Hannah Johnson

    That was very interesting to read! My family also uses thanksgiving as a time to meet up with family before winter! We also keep our food traditional, every year we have the same main food but people bring different side dishes they made to have variety.

  10. Kaitlyn Young

    I really like that you use the holidays to spend time with your family! Many people don’t do this anymore. It’s very cool that you use dishes from all cultures to celebrate your diverse background. It’s an awesome way to stay connected with your roots!

  11. Austin Kindt

    Do you have any advice for how to eat more on Thanksgiving? In the past I have tried skipping breakfast and lunch but it ends up failing and suppressing my appetite.
    Thanksgiving for my family has always been about spending time with loved ones and family we don’t get to see very often. Its really neat you were able to prepare the entire meal yourself. I usually stick with the easy meals to prepare like the green bean casserole.

  12. Bao Vang

    I love how Thanksgiving is unique to you and your family! One unique thing that my mom does every year during Thanksgiving break is, the day before Thanksgiving she would cook a turkey just for the family to eat and relax together. She has been doing it for the past 6 six so its like a tradition in the family. It is also like a pre-thanksgiving gathering but just with the family then the next day (which is Thanksgiving) is spent with the family and relatives. I don’t see this as a negative thing but just a way to let my siblings, parents, and I to get together as a whole family and catch up on each other’ lives. This is one tradition that makes my Thanksgiving unique every year.

  13. Donovan Chock

    Good for you for successfully feeding your family! That is a huge responsibility! I think we’re similar as I am also biracial. My mothers side of the family is German and Danish while my dads is English, Chinese, and mainly Hawaiian. We have Thanksgiving with my moms side of the family and my dad and grandma oversee a lot of the cooking. With my dad having that power, he incorporates traditional Hawaiian dishes in with the turkey and potatoes. Now I’m hungry, thanks.

  14. 5 birthdays during thanksgiving week! I really like your thanksgiving story – I like how you take advantage of the holiday to meet with family members right before winter sets and the idea of using thanks giving as a time to celebrate the five birthdays. I have only beem to two families for thanksgiving so far and I like how the celebrations seem very similar when it comes to uniting families.

  15. Kyle Hellmann

    I missed last Thanksgiving with my family due to other commitments, and reading your article made me regret that decision. You made me realize that just the process of making the dinner is just as important as the meal!

  16. Mike Lehmann

    Yea, I’m never allowed to touch anything yet when it comes to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, so its really cool that you got to do that, kudos. I really look forward to that time of year as well because it is a chance to see all of your family in one place and really catch up on what has been going. A tradition on my dad’s side of the family is that we will set up the Christmas decorations at who’s ever house we are at this year. Sounds like it was a fun time.

  17. Kyle Stepka

    I never help cook anything besides when it comes to the holidays. So I think that this story is very interesting and brought back memories to me. I love hearing stories around holidays when my family comes about there stories and what they think of stuff, it is so funny and makes my day.

  18. Chelsey L

    That’s awesome you were able to do that! Sounds like everyone enjoyed and spent quality time. Your foods sounds like what we have except wild rice and yams, but definitely something to try at thanksgiving. That’s amazing that your family has so many birthdays that week and you get to spend time together for it. Family time is always the best!

  19. Camila Garcia

    I think that one important role as a family member is to have the chance to keep doing the traditions of our families. It is a way of showing that we are old enough to make tasks that required experience and dedication. I think is very cool that you could make the turkey. I know how important that is for thanksgiving and having the chance to make I think is both challenging and rewarding in the end.

  20. Karn Pederstuen

    I enjoyed reading about your family’s traditions when it comes to preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. It was interesting to hear about all the different foods your family enjoys and how the food you prepare celebrates both sides of your family’s heritage.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.