Thanksgiving in the USA – More than just a holiday - Live Work Travel USA|Live Work Travel USA

Thanksgiving in the USA – More than just a holiday

It’s Thanksgiving season! The time when American families come together, even travel long distances to meet up, and share a meal together. Not any meal, but the traditional dinner centered around a large roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy. For dessert there’s traditionally apple pie, but also pumpkin pie, pecan pie and other variations.

But the most important part of Thanksgiving, is spending some quality time together as a family. Thanksgiving is one of the most important family holidays in the United States and is followed up by Black Friday. This is the kick off for the busiest and most profitable time of the year for retailers, because it’s the start into the Christmas shopping season. Many companies give their employees the day off on Friday after Thanksgiving.

While Americans love to shop all year long, the shopping craze gets to a whole new level on Black Friday. Stores are having the best deals of the year with “door busters” (insanely good deals) so good, that people start lining up in front of the closed stores as early as Thanksgiving day. The line often wraps around the building at major big box stores like Best Buy, Walmart and Target. Serious shoppers bring their tents and camping gear, especially if it’s a cold night from Thursday to Friday.

Of course the stores are taking full advantage of this (thanks to greedy stock holders) and unfortunately forget about the importance of Thanksgiving as a family holiday. Because of that, they started to open their doors earlier every year to allow even more time for shopping. From opening early morning on Black Friday like it used to be, they moved their opening hours to midnight, then 10pm on Thanksgiving Day and now even as early as 5 or 6pm. Right when families are having their Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m sure this can cause quite some tension, when some family members appreciate the time together and others can’t wait to pull away from the table to chase the best deals. Happy Thanksgiving!

If you’re new to all this and this is your first Thanksgiving and Black Friday experience, let me give you a few pointers on what you can expect during that time.

Increased traffic

A lot of Americans will have to travel long distances to reunite with their family for Thanksgiving. One of my favorite movies about this topic is Planes, Trains & Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy. After watching this you’ll know how dedicated Americans are to get home for this holiday.

Grocery shopping

Thanksgiving week drives people into the grocery stores to buy ingredients for the big meal on Thursday. Expect increased traffic and longer lines in the stores. A lot of items (e.g. turkey) will sell out fast.

Thanksgiving Day Parade

Many cities will have a Thanksgiving Parade, which is a lot of fun to watch. My wife drags me to it here in Charlotte every year. The biggest and best known parade is the one in New York City with over 8,000 participants, a live audience of about 3.5 million and over 50 million TV viewers. It’s kind of a big deal.

Photo credit: martha_chapa95 / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: martha_chapa95 / Foter / CC BY


You might get invited by an American co-worker or friend, if they see that you might end up alone on Thanksgiving. Make sure to accept and experience this tradition first hand. Ask if you should bring anything.

Crazy long lines on Black Friday

If you really want to save a few dollars on this hot deal, expect the longest lines you’ve ever seen in front of the cash register. 2 hours fly by in no time waiting to check out. Did I mention the line that wraps around the building outside? That’s the price you have to pay to get your hands on the door busters.

Door Busters

You love a good bargain? Now’s your time. 50″ HD TVs for 200 bucks, laptops for $100, etc. There are great deals on all categories across the board. If you’re curious on what deals certain stores will offer, check out this site. Here, they are posting flyers of the stores and leaking some of the door busters.

Violence & increased crime

Watch out if you’re shopping in certain areas of your city, that are surrounded by the not so nice neighborhoods. Every year there are incidents like people getting beaten up over a certain door busters or being robbed out in the parking lot. Every year there are some crooks who take desperate measures to get their hands on some cheap merchandize to either sell it for profit or to not disappoint their kids at home at Christmas.

Online Shoppers sit back

As if Black Friday wouldn’t be enough, there needs to be a separate day for all the online shoppers. And that is the Monday after Black Friday, called Cyber Monday. Expect another round of incredible deals, limited quantities, all online for you to purchase from home. Some sites will go down due to the high traffic at times.

Black Friday vs Cyber Monday

I personally like Cyber Monday better, because I hate to stand in line and I love taking advantage of cashback sites to get an even better deal. That’s something that wouldn’t work if I buy in the store. I’ve recommended Ebates (aff. link) many times before and do it again. It doesn’t cost you anything to sign up and I will get a few bucks for referring you, which I don’t have a problem admitting, since we both will make money with it.  I am also currently exploring (aff. link), which gives you even more cashback than Ebates. If you want to learn more about sites like these, check out my article about it.

A great site to compare all the different cashback sites is

And now, have fun experiencing an American Thanksgiving, eat a bird (or not), watch the parade and get some bargains. Happy Thanksgiving!

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