5 things Americans celebrating Thanksgiving abroad want you to know.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and gathering together in gratitude. And that doesn't have to change if you're an American living overseas.

As the unofficial kickoff of the "holiday season," Thanksgiving is a celebration of all things American: food, family, football, and colonialism. And the pull of cozy traditions and comfort food can be mighty this time of year — even for those who've left the United States behind to live abroad.

I wanted to find out how U.S. expats celebrate the most American holiday of them all, so I connected with a few women who live overseas with their families. They told me about some of the more, well, surprising challenges they've faced — including a potato embargo! — along with new customs they couldn't wait to try.


Whether you're living abroad or you're missing someone who is, here are five ways Americans are throwing an expat Thanksgiving in 2017.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

1. It's hard not to get a little sentimental about Thanksgiving foods and flavors — but experimenting with ingredients from a new place is half the fun.

Ashley Lunde moved from Madison, Wisconsin, to her husband's home country of Oslo, Norway, two and a half years ago. At first, she insisted on bringing the spices and foods she was familiar with to Oslo. But now, she blends the traditions and flavor profiles she's learned from her Norwegian family into the typical American Thanksgiving dishes.

"The turkey is baked with celery, carrots, and onions (was our tradition at home), but [I] have added grapes, apples, and pears as well to the mix. Food in Norway tends to be sweeter, (mixing meat and berries for example, is very common)," she writes in an interview over Facebook Messenger. "We also use lingonberry instead of cranberry, and rømme (a Norwegian version of sour cream) on 'grove rundstykker,' which is whole grain Norwegian bread made into dinner rolls."

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole conversation was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

Keep Reading Show less