How to Have an American Thanksgiving

This Thursday is American Thanksgiving, one of the only non-religious holidays we’ve got!

It’s got a somewhat unfortunate origin, but I’m glad to have a holiday I can celebrate along with the rest of my country. As much as I love the freedoms and wealth afforded me as an American, I don’t always feel connected, but Thanksgiving is one of those things that really makes me feel like an American.

The best part of Thanksgiving is spending time with family. The other great thing about it is the reminder to reflect on all that I am grateful for.

I am grateful for…

* A loving husband who is sweet, kind, and good-natured

* Family who support me and strive to understand me

* Good friends who are there for me no matter what

* A dog and a cat who give me cuddles and love

* A lovely apartment with enough space for me to have a home office

* The way the sunlight comes through my windows

* A job that allows me to support our little family (and doesn’t have a dress code!)

* The religion that gives my life meaning

* Good books and a library next door

* All my creative outlets from writing to crafting to cooking

* Freedom of speech and freedom of expression

* Trees and air and grass and ocean and water and nature in general


A traditional Thanksgiving dinner is all about a cooked turkey, but if you’re a veg Hindu, here are some ideas of other dishes you can make…

Vegetarian Apple Stuffing Recipe

(What is stuffing? It was originally bits of bread and spices that were stuffed into the turkey and cooked inside the bird. It’s a very traditional part of the meal, but most people cook stuffing entirely separately from the turkey now)

Vegan Pecan Pie Recipe

Vegan Caramel Apple Pie

Pies are another huge Thanksgiving tradition. Often families will have at least one each of Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, and Apple Pie. Apple is my specialty. I’ve been making apple pies with a crust from my great Aunt Ruth’s recipe for fifteen years.

Sweet Potato Casserole Without Eggs

Green Bean Casserole

Mashed Potatoes

Eggless Cornbread

List of Potential Turkey Substitutes (I think the meal is fine with lots of yummy sides, but if you want something to be the focal point, there are some ideas at this site)


Other potential recipes:

Indian Thanksgiving: Recipes for an Indian take on Thanksgiving dishes

The New York Times has put together a huge database of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes

 A mother reflects on creating new Thanksgiving traditions.

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Andrea

    Can I ask what the reason is that you don’t celebrate other holidays with family? Can you just do the cultural stuff and leave off the religious? When I was in India, we celebrated everything regardless of personal religion – Easter, Eid, Janmashtami, didn’t matter. It was all a good reason to take off work and eat!

    My family was not religious but we still did Santa presents, Christmas lights, carols, Easter bunny, baskets, chocolate. One time we went to church on Easter and that was weird so we never did it again :)

    • Ambaa

      I do celebrate the big Christian holidays with family. We’re going to North Carolina this year for Christmas to spend it with my dad’s side of the family.

      For me, though, those holidays are emotionally complicated. I’m trying to get to a more peaceful relationship with Christianity, but I’m still struggling with that. I have a post going up shortly about Christmas based on my mother-in-law celebrating it in a secular way.

      I guess when you feel like you aren’t quite being accepted fully as the religion that you identify as, you get pretty sensitive about drawing firm boundaries between yourself and other religions. At least, that seems to be what I do.

  • Lynn Swayze Wilson

    It’s interesting how about every holiday is spiritualized in America. And by spiritualized, I mean Christian-ized. A Jewish friend of mine was actually asked if Jewish people celebrated Thanksgiving. O.o

    Have a great holiday!! :)

    • Ambaa

      They really are!

  • TruthSeeker

    I liked the concept of Thanksgiving. There is no harm if Hindus also celebrate this albeit in a veg way.

    • Ambaa

      I agree! The part about remembering things we are grateful for can only be good!