Stories Of Your First Thanksgiving In The U.S. : Code Switch Not surprisingly, many of the stories we heard from you were about food. You had issues roasting the turkey. Your mom found, um, a creative solution to making your bird golden-brown.
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Stories Of Your First Thanksgiving In The U.S.

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Stories Of Your First Thanksgiving In The U.S.

Stories Of Your First Thanksgiving In The U.S.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The story of the first Thanksgiving is of a welcoming feast laid out by the Native Americans for some newcomers to the land. Every year, new immigrants to the U.S. are experiencing Thanksgiving for the first time. And that first holiday feast can be a baffling experience. NPR's Code Switch team invited people to share their stories.

MIKA WATANABE: Hi, my name is Mika Watanabe. I'm from Japan, and I'm living in Missoula, Montana. Growing up in Japan, I had never seen or touched or eaten a turkey. On Thanksgiving Day, the turkey was still in the freezer.

(MUSIC)

WATANABE: One friend warned me to thaw the turkey right away. And my instinct reaction was to put the turkey in my bathtub by running hot water.

(MUSIC)

WATANABE: This remedy did not go well, of course, and we ended up eating instant noodles that night.

(MUSIC)

WATANABE: It looked as if the big bird enjoyed taking a bath, not getting roasted.

(MUSIC)

LETICIA ORTIZ: My name is Leticia Ortiz, and I live in Dallas, Texas. My parents moved out here to Dallas in the late '70s from Mexico. My mom really wasn't sure how people roasted their turkeys to get it to look, like, golden and delicious. So her and her sisters kind of just got creative with it. And they decided that they would use, like, a steamer or a boiler on the stovetop instead of using the oven because they didn't know how to use the oven. And they came up with the idea of just putting a chili paste on it that you would make for, like, tamales or mole. And that's how they gave their turkey color because they didn't know how else to do it.

(MUSIC)

ORTIZ: It had a little bit of, like, a Mexican flair.

(MUSIC)

BRENDA SALINAS: My name is Brenda Salinas. My family moved from Mexico to the U.S. when I was 6 years old.

(MUSIC)

SALINAS: I remember we had, like, all different kinds of spaghetti and some Mexican food. And my mom pulls out of the oven these, like, turkey cutlets - not like a turkey, but turkey cutlets - that she had got at, like, Sam's Club. And I was crying. I was like this is not what the turkey looks like. It doesn't come precut. You have to have a full bird. And she was like, you didn't - you didn't tell me that.

(MUSIC)

ANNA MAJA: My name is Anna Maja (ph), and I currently live in Portland, Oregon. I moved from Australia, and this was my first Thanksgiving in the States. I was brand-new and married and had a new husband.

Yeah, it was a little disappointing. I didn't understand the holiday. I thought it would be a little bit more lively. And when everyone went around the table stating what they gave thanks for, I'd never experienced that before. And I came up with a blank, which is horrible, because I had a new husband. I had a new life. I had many things to be thankful for.

And I'm staring at everybody and didn't know what to say. And I think I said, I'm thankful it's my birthday.

(MUSIC)

MAJA: I'm actually really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. And I've actually learned to slow down in anticipation for the holiday and take advantage of the fact that it's a day just to be together, and you don't have to fill it with things.

(MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Four people telling stories of their first Thanksgiving in America.

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