Did you know they don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Sweden?
Heather Jonasson-Guest Blogger

When November rolls around and the weather starts to cool off (at least in my current neck of the woods), it’s time for cozy evenings and great autumn food to warm us up. By the end of the month, many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving, using the weeks before to prepare. I know my grandmother always makes pies weeks ahead to freeze for the big day. Once Thanksgiving passes, we’re all ready to head out to eat at restaurants with food that is nothing at all like what we eat at Thanksgiving, because we’ve been eating the same leftovers for days.

 

I spent the first 25 years of my life in Baytown before moving overseas to Sweden. Did you know they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Sweden? Well, I hope you did, and if you didn’t, just think about it for a minute.

So this time of year I find myself thinking of the food I used to eat back in Baytown during the holiday season. It hasn’t always been so easy to acquire turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin on this side of the Atlantic, but we manage to find what we need with some careful shopping. It also took my Swedish in-laws a few years, but now they’ve come to appreciate and even request sweet potato pie with pralines. I still haven’t been able to convince them to enjoy the pumpkin pie, so my husband makes a pecan pie and I get the pumpkin pie all to myself. Happy Thanksgiving indeed! (Pictured: Heather enjoying a Thanksgiving meal when she happened to be back in Texas one year.)

When my husband makes pecan pie in Sweden, he spends quite a bit of money buying pecans, as they are not native here. I often think about my childhood in Baytown where most people in my neighborhood had a pecan tree, or at least a neighbor’s tree hanging over the fence, where kids could snack all they liked. People would drop off giant grocery bags filled with pecans to those who were unfortunate enough not to have pecan trees.

Pecan, pumpkin and lemon icebox pies were easy to come by then. These flavors are scarce in Sweden. Each summer, we visit friends and family in Baytown and one of our stops is always Luby’s, because of their amazing pies. Our kids can’t get enough of the macaroni and cheese (also lacking in Sweden), and Luby’s is on the top of their vacation list each year. (Pictured: Heather's boys excited about Luby's!)

A farmer’s market sounds wonderful this time of year and I know it’s only a matter of time before the ice rink returns, along with the Christmas parade. I haven’t been able to experience the new ice rink, but have enjoyed seeing pictures of people I know ice skating in light jackets in December, while I involuntarily ice skate all the way down the road when the snow plows haven’t sanded the sidewalks early enough.

So be thankful for that cool breeze on a crisp, autumn day. Get outside with your family and enjoy the outdoors this time of year. Be thankful for your pecan trees. Be thankful for Luby’s pies and Mexican food! There are many jealous Swedes over here ready to come over to enjoy your mild winter and never-ending chips and salsa.

 

- Heather Jonasson

Former Baytown resident and Lee High School graduate, currently residing in Stockholm, Sweden. Author of the books “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow” and “As Long as I Have My Own Bathroom”. Packages of beef jerky and Del-Dixi pickles happily accepted.

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