Immigration Stories – Green Bean Casserole, Cheesy Potatoes with Corn Flakes, and a Foreigner’s First Thanksgiving – by Hannes Stenström. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Immigration Stories – Green Bean Casserole, Cheesy Potatoes with Corn Flakes, and a Foreigner’s First Thanksgiving – by Hannes Stenström. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[The College of St. Scholastica Nordic Ski Team ready for Thanksgiving dinner]

An interesting thing about living in another country, not just visiting it as a tourist, is that it gives you the opportunity of taking full part in the new country’s traditions. Some of them might be similar or identical to the ones at home, others might be something entirely different. From my viewpoint, I’d say that Thanksgiving falls somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum.

Being enrolled here at the College of St. Scholastica and also being a part of the Nordic Ski Team at the College, I got the chance to experience a (somewhat) traditional American Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago.

There’s no real equivalent to Thanksgiving in Sweden, so the whole concept of the Turkey dinner was completely unfamiliar to me except from small glimpses of it conveyed via American movies and TV-series. However, I find the idea of devoting a holiday to gratitude towards what one has and all the good things that one has been given to be a very good one, and something that should be more cherished in Western culture. After all, even though the riches of the western world might not be distributed equally, the majority of both Swedes and Americans live in what can only be described as a historically unrivaled period of economic prosperity and safety.

Since Thanksgiving usually coincides with the coming of the first snow in the more wintry areas of the U.S, it is common for American Nordic skiers to eat their Turkey dinners away from home according to my American teammates. Mid-November is also a time when it’s crucial for skiers to switch from roller skis to the real deal in order to get the feel for the snow and be ready when racing starts in full swing in the beginning of December, so a lot of people use the days off to go on training camps. This does not come without some tension among families for which Thanksgiving serves as an occasion when the whole family is to be gathered and share meals, especially if the times when all of the family is in one place are few and far between. In this case, we in the St. Scholastica Nordic Ski Team were in Calumet, Michigan that had been hit by a few feet of snow just before Thanksgiving for a training camp. The team served as a substitute family for everyone during this holiday, and even though it might not be a family in the most traditional sense of the word I think that we still managed to encapsulate some of the Thanksgiving spirit in the way we celebrated it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_bean_casserole

A lot of Turkey was consumed, along with a plethora of other traditional and non-traditional dishes in the style of a potluck dinner. I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with the cooking skills of the guys on the team; people were placing one plate of goodness after another on the table. Some things I could recognize from festive occasions in Sweden, others were new experiences, such as green bean casserole, cheesy potatoes with corn flakes, pumpkin pie and stuffing. It was definitely a feast and I clearly realized that this is a very important occasion for most Americans. Some of my teammates said that they would place Thanksgiving right after Christmas as the most significant holiday of the year. Seeing how important of a family tradition this is and hearing my teammates talk about how their families were saddened by not having them at home made me realize that quite some time has passed since I last saw my own family as I left Sweden in August. Being on an athletic team has definitely helped with keeping the feeling of homesickness in check, especially on occasions like these. I can imagine that Thanksgiving could have been a tough experience if all of my teammates were to go home to their families, leaving my Norwegian friend Emil and I all alone at campus. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go through that kind of emotional marshland, and with winter break quickly approaching it won’t be long until it I’ll be able to sit down and enjoy a hot chocolate with my family.

Hannes Stenström serves as an assistant editor for The North Star Reports


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

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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our guiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five years we have published over 300 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our volunteer student editors and writers come from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). We have an all volunteer staff. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang and NSR Student Editors and Writers. For a brief summary of our history, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Ellie Swanson and Marin Ekstrom, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers. 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 editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

16 Comments

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

16 responses to “Immigration Stories – Green Bean Casserole, Cheesy Potatoes with Corn Flakes, and a Foreigner’s First Thanksgiving – by Hannes Stenström. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

    • DyAnna Grondahl

      Hannes,

      I appreciate your perspective on American Thanksgiving. This year, I spent some time wondering why Americans eat what they do on this holiday. It is not like any of our staple dishes are all that special – they’re mostly different mixtures of carbs, cream soup, and butter (ah, the great midwestern hotdish). I was speaking with Professor Liang a few weeks ago, and I mentioned that this was the first year that I wasn’t cooking for my family’s Thanksgiving for the last ten years. The tradition of food is interesting, because I think it extends past the food being consumed, but who is making it. I am glad that your teammates were impressive cooks. That makes the American tradition of eating WAY TOO MUCH a lot easier to handle.

      Thank you,
      DyAnna

  1. Brandon Pickeral

    Hannes,
    Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving experience. I am glad that you were able to enjoy it. It is great to hear a perspective of the Thanksgiving holiday that does not include the Black Friday hysteria that takes such a prevalent role in the celebration today. Over the years, consumerism has changed the Thanksgiving holiday into one of “want” instead of “thanks.” Your story does serve as an excellent reminder of what Thanksgiving is still about. Family, whether given or chosen, coming together for great food, enjoying each others company (hopefully) and giving thanks for all that we have.

  2. Ryan Sauve

    Hannes,
    Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving experience, it is something that is uniquely American that is celebrating something that may not be worth celebrating considering its origins. But, it is a wonderful traditions that allows people to give thanks for the fall harvest right before the typical first snow. I’m glad you had a team to share the meal with to celebrate your first Thanksgiving to fully immerse yourself in the Thanksgiving traditions of many different people. It would be cool if anyone on the team had Swedish ancestry and made traditional dishes that you were familiar with. I know there is a Thanksgiving celebration in Canada in mid-October, I wonder how many of these traditions are found around the world that relate closely to this? Your article gives a unique voice and perspective to an American tradition, I hope you enjoyed it!

  3. Owen Granger

    Hannes,
    I am very glad that you were able to experience an American Thanksgiving feast. Having played sports for well over half my life, I completely understand that your teammates are family. Other than the amazing food, Thanksgiving allows us to leave our daily lives for a while to cherish the close relationships that we share with others. While your first time celebrating may not have been traditional, it sounds like it let you experience the reason why it is so important to American families. I have realized being away from my family during college (though my 3 hour drive is no comparison for your flight to Sweden) that these holidays bring us together no matter what differences we have. I believe that we all would be in a better place if we treated each other like it was Thanksgiving everyday. I hope that you are able to bring home some of our tradition and make weave it into the fabric of yours.

  4. Jacob Kallenbach

    Hello Hannes,
    Thank you for the well written article! I am glad you had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving here and with people you felt were family. I have played sports throughout my entire life and even the AAU team I played on in 8 grade still gets together over Christmas to celebrate. It has been almost 8 years since we played together and we made such a connection we still feel as if we are family. I think no matter what country you are from or what you practice, this time of the year brings us all together and almost brings out a friendlier vibe around the world. It is truly a great time to be alive and a great time to meet new people and experience other cultures.

  5. Cassandra Mahlberg

    Thank you for sharing this sweet story with us, Hannes.
    I’m happy that you had your team to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with. I can see where it would be hard to not be with family for such a thing, even if it isn’t a tradition in your own culture. I am always frustrated when my family tells me we’re not spending a holiday together (typically it is work related, as my mother makes twice as much money as a normal shift for working holidays). This year was one of those times that we couldn’t spend Thanksgiving together, so my best friend’s family had me over that day. This was just as good, if not better, than spending Thanksgiving with my own family (which we actually did the next day). Sometimes friends are the best family we can have to support us at different times. And while I did enjoy Thanksgiving with my family on that Friday, I am most grateful to have so many people to spend special times with. Your ending really touched me, as I have never experienced such a long time apart from my family, and I genuinely hope you get to enjoy that mug of hot cocoa with your family sooner, rather than later.

  6. Ellery Bruns

    Hannes,
    Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving experience. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because I am able to spend it with the people I love: my family and friends. For me, Thanksgiving is a time where we can all just be together. I can empathize about being away from your family, especially in a holiday season. I haven’t seen some of my family in a very long time because we live far apart, but thanks to technology we are able to communicate a little bit. Hopefully, you are able to see or talk to your family soon.

    Out of curiosity, what dish was your favorite?

  7. Joseph Ehrich

    Dear Hannes,
    This article was really interesting and it really showed the power of family. Family is one of the most important things that humans cherish in their lives and they play huge roles in our lives. Skiers do spend lots of time away from their families during the holidays as they train for their coming seasons for skiing. The skier families do understand the sacrifice they make as they endure intense exercises to get in better shape. Close friends can also be included as family as we spend long periods of time with them and laugh over their past experiences. Spending the holidays away from family is hard but are close friends allow us to feel the close connection that we desire during the holidays.

  8. Andrew Bailey

    Hello Hannes, thank you for sharing this important tradition of the CSS ski team! I must admit, I missed being at ski camp this year, but I think it is great that you all had a successful and delicious dinner. My favorite memory from the 2017 ski team camp thanksgiving dinner was the variety of foods each athlete cooked, because everyone has a different favorite dish at thanksgiving and different food at their thanksgiving dinner table. I partnered with Isaac and cooked stuffing, it was delicious! Certainly, being away from one’s family during the holiday season can be difficult, but the ski team is certainly a great substitute to fill this void. I felt very fortunate to get home and visit my family this past thanksgiving. I wish you safe travels home when you head back for winter break!

  9. Angela Pecarina

    Hannes,

    I love your outlook. I have never gone abroad but even for a trip alone I feel I would miss my family. Thanksgiving is a huge holiday in the US & I am glad you got to experience that and see it through other people like on your ski team. It must be a good feeling to have a team as they can be your second family. I give you props for being away from your family for so long, I don’t think I could do that. I certainly enjoy reading about your outlook as long as my other friends from other countries. I’m glad you can enjoy that hot chocolate in a few weeks!

  10. Jane Kariuki

    Hello Hannes,
    Thank you for sharing your story and experience. Similarly to you, my family does not celebrate Thanksgiving. Since we have been in the states for so long we kind of take advantage of that day; staying and eating together. However, we do not make the traditional Thanksgiving food, in a sense we have created our own tradition. However, my Christmas is what I would say is similar to United States Thanksgivings. During Christmas, we simply get together, cook, and eat throughout the day. So during this time of year, it is about the family and food. Therefore, I am glad that you had a chance to experience Thanksgiving and that you were with a group of people. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Katie Peterson

    Hannes, I really liked your thoughts on how Thanksgiving is a holiday to be grateful for what we have and how we should practice that more often. I knew that the CSS ski team usually goes away during the days off to be able to ski, but I forget to think about how their families may feel about that sacrifice. However, I’m glad that you were able to be part of a big group to enjoy a good meal! Sometimes celebrating with friends can be almost like celebrating with family, and it sounds like the food was just as delicious! Thank you for sharing this article about your Thanksgiving experience!

  12. Sam Long

    Loved reading your article Hannes. Thank you for telling us how your experiences of Thanksgiving as a student from Sweden and how different or similar you thought they would be. This can show us to not take anything for granted and to be thankful for things because many other countries around the world do not have thanksgiving. I’m glad that you were able to take part in the Thanksgiving festivities and that you were able to eat traditional Thanksgiving food. Hope you have a safe trip back to Sweden for break.

  13. Diana Deuel

    Hi Hannes,
    Thank you for sharing your story! I often wonder what other countries think about our Thanksgiving traditions in America! I think it is so cool that your team celebrated together. I want to spend time abroad and often think about how I will celebrate the holidays when I am away from my family. I hope I find a group just like you did!
    Thank you!

  14. Madina Tall

    Hannes,
    Thank you for sharing this interesting story! I particularly liked it because I can really relate to it! This is my second year doing thanksgiving with my roommate and there’s always so much to observe. I think its great that you had your team to celebrate with because after all, its about being thankful and I think that’s something you can do easily with the people you’re close with! I hope you keep having great thanksgivings in the following years to come!

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