Thanksgiving 2021 πŸ¦ƒ β€” Aussie Women in New York-style

The unforgettable ‘Great Wall of Pies’ at a Friendsgiving attended by Robyn and her wife Elisabeth.

For many of us who relocate far from home, the wonder and excitement of experiencing new cultural occasions and rituals is right up there with the things we come to enjoy the most.

Setting up home in New York City, we enjoy the ever-changing light show atop the Empire State Building, save a bundle at the annual Black Friday sales, swirl around some of the city’s iconic ice skating rinks, and are awed by the inflating of 36 massive character balloons on Thanksgiving eve, in preparation for the city’s annual parade. Thanksgiving β€” celebrated in the U.S.A. on the last Thursday of November β€” is a holiday most of us Aussies especially grow to appreciate. On a late fall afternoon, we take the time to exhale and give thanks with families or friends around a harvest table set with a roast turkey (or tofurkey), delicious side dishes, and maybe a great wall of pies!

Holiday cheers from AWNY Community Committee volunteers (L-R) Jemima Kilby, Simone Brands-Cohen and Robyn Sunderland.

Several of AWNY’s Community Committee volunteers β€” whom you may have met at our regular in-person ‘Coffee Strolls‘, virtual ‘Chinwags’ or ‘Emotional Transition‘ events throughout the year β€” took a moment to share some of their favorite Thanksgiving traditions with us below.

Whether it’s spending the day with new or old friends, acclimatizing in front of the Thanksgiving football game, roasting up a chook (turkeys take forever!), volunteering at one of NYC’s food pantries, or running a Turkey Trot 5K marathon β€” we’d love to hear your traditions, too.

Tina Chapman β€” AWNY volunteer

AWNY Community Committee volunteer Tina Chapman with her family in Brooklyn.

We moved from Australia 4 months ago and will be hosting a Friendsgiving this year for our first Thanksgiving in New York. We are so excited to be bringing together both Australians and Americans in our home to give thanks, drink wine, and eat way too much food. I am on dessert duty and will be doing the traditional pumpkin pie and my signature banofee pie. I am also doing the Park Slope 5-mile Turkey Trot the morning of so that I can make room for all that food!

Robyn Sunderland β€” AWNY volunteer

Robyn’s 2021 Thanksgiving recipes with first-time metal pie tin.

Thanksgiving is a mother of a feast, which I’ve managed to somewhat successfully tame over the years I’ve lived in NYC. There are no home-grown Americans in my family, but that has never stopped me from celebrating this holiday in so many delightful ways, whether I’m hosting “Thanksgiving of the Strays” or attending “Friendsgiving” celebrations. For an avid cook like me, it involves at least a two-week build-up of hunting down new or tried-and-true recipes, watching how-to videos from my favorite go-to chefs (who right now include Alison Roman, Samin Nosrat and Melissa Clark), putting together a customized menu, preparing an aisle-by-aisle shopping list, and then beginning the annual ritual of hauling everything home, one overloaded shopping bag at a time. Did I mention that if you’re car-less (like a good majority of us in NYC), this feast is also a really terrific workout? Having at least one prep day/evening is essential, as is a sturdy loaf of quality bread for the stuffing (or dressing, as it’s curiously called here), along with some good Aussie wines to accompany the bird. I have many recipes I enjoy making and my crew enjoys eating, including dry-brined turkey with thyme, mushroom and roasted shallot gravy with port, chorizo and leek stuffing (add 2 diced and sauteed apples). But the real crowd-pleaser would have to be the NY Times’ kabocha squash pie. Trust me, you’ll want to save room for a slice!

One of the many floats in New York’s annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Photo credit. Susie Lang

Susie Lang β€” AWNY volunteer

Big birds in baseball caps heading down Central Park West in the Thanksgiving Parade. Photo Credit. Susie Lang

What I love about Thanksgiving is the Macy’s Parade that meanders down Central Park West all the way to Macy’s at 34th Street. It seems to start off the day, the beginning of the winter season, the prelude and the celebration of the Holiday Season β€” all with a bagel, smoked salmon and coffee. Every Thanksgiving day since 2004, I have been in NYC. Every year watching the Parade from the 4th Floor of a family member’s apartment. Talk about up close and personal. This year for the first time I’ll be in Connecticut with my US family β€” same immediate family, a different location with lots of open space with the parade on the TV and I’m sure a different feel to it all.  

We’re thankful for you

Australian Women in New York are thankful for our families, friends, community members and neighbors. We are thankful to everyone in New York, back home and beyond who showed up and put in the many tough hours to overcome the challenges we’ve faced together these past eighteen months so that we can look forward to a year full of reunions, re-openings and re-imaginings. We wish you, your families and loved ones safe travels, good health and a Happy Thanksgiving.

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Author: Australian Women in New York

Australian Women in New York (AWNY) sources stories and guides that will help make you win the Big Apple. We also love to profile fabulous Aussie and Kiwi women.

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