By Contributor Lane Nieset

Thanksgiving is the one time of year when everyone in my family gets together. My extended family lives all over the country, so everyone flies or drives to Florida every year for our Thanksgiving dinner. Since my sisters and I have started (and finished) college, the dynamic has changed a bit. We have a bit of a family rivalry going on between the Florida Gators (me) and the Seminoles (my two younger sisters). My sisters played in the marching band, so they were not able to come home for Thanksgiving the past couple of years because the UF vs. FSU game takes place Thanksgiving weekend.


This year, I’ll be the one missing Thanksgiving since I’m teaching abroad in France. The family traditions and gatherings that I took for granted are more meaningful now since I won’t be able to take part in them this year. Last year, my aunt came down from Ohio and taught me how to make dressing (or stuffing) from scratch. My mom is not much of a cook, so I took over the side dishes and made a sweet potato casserole recipe courtesy of Cooking Light. I had to run out to the store twice on Thanksgiving to get ingredients for this dish (first to buy brown sugar and then to buy more pecans), but it was a hit at dinner.

I didn’t think I would miss Thanksgiving so much, but it is a bit of a culture shock going straight from Halloween to Christmas. After October 31, stores in France start putting out Christmas decorations. No turkeys. No pilgrims. No Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks. Also, no oven chez moi. Luckily, a fellow American has an oven and has decided to host a Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey and all. I’ll still get to take part in this American holiday even if I can’t celebrate with my family. My time abroad has not only allowed me to experience life in a different country, it’s also allowing me to create new traditions.

What are some of your family traditions during Thanksgiving?