Thanksgiving is one of the most family-oriented holidays there is for US Americans and Canadians.

So, many potential expats or current newish expats feel like they will be homesick.

In this article, I describe how many people handle it and give some tips on how to improve it.

First off, it’s okay to be homesick. You miss your family, kids, maybe even grandkids. It’s normal to miss them during a major holiday.

And, if you live outside the US or Canada, no one celebrates Thanksgiving.

This year, I mentioned it to several local friends here in México and only one person heard of it. And, his business is driving expats around, so of course he would know.

Just decide on how you are what to handle Thanksgiving and Christmas. By the way, Christmas is huge in México and Latin America in general. Christmas tree were up in all the malls and nicer hotel at the beginning of November right after Day Of The Dead.

Christmas Tree in a Mexican mall

And even the roundabouts have Christmas decorations.

Christmas display on roundabout

I’ve lived outside the US full-time for a bit over 6-years now and when I lived in Playa del Carmen, Mexico we went to a friend’s house for Friendsgiving. Not on Thursday but the following Saturday (aka today), due to some friends have to work on a Thursday.

Friendsgiving throwing your own Thanksgiving Day party and invite other expats and locals that are curious about the holiday.

Around 40 people bringing all the “fixings” and a gigantic turkey. The Russians brought vodka. The Brits called Thanksgiving very American and enjoyable, and thought everyone around the world should pick up the holiday. The Canadians pretended it was October. Everyone was a bit happy that there was no family drama, since it was just friends.

I found the family drama to be a bit much. US Southerns telling us Yanks don’t understand. My Cherokee side, not liking the fake history holiday. And my intellectual family side that can’t stand the red-necks. Family holidays are exhausting, so we just go into town and have breakfast, do some shopping (everything is open which is pleasant), have a nice lunch, some more shopping and then come home. All the while sending text messages to family saying Happy Thanksgiving.

Now, that I live in an area across the peninsula that has fewer foreigners, we have made our own tradition. Plus, my area is mostly Canadian expats who celebrate Thanksgiving in October and mostly in Canada before they come down for winter.

I recommend you start your own tradition, here’s mine.

I would rather not cook Thanksgiving. Finding some ingredients is a choir, although there is no supermarket rush, which is pleasant. Cranberries and large turkeys are not the easiest thing to get.

Some people go to KFC and get their favorite meal there. Chicken and mashed potatoes is pretty close to tradition.

We go into the big city of Mérida and eat where we like. Thursday we went to one breakfast place and had a crazy delicious croissant and cappuccino. Then we went to another of our favorite breakfast places and had Turkish Eggs and a latte.

Thanksgiving Breakfast

Then after my chiropractor appointment (one of the real reasons we come into the city) we went to two malls and shopped.

Stopped at a mall Starbucks and had a fancy holiday latte in between stores. We’re still shopping for decorative things for the house.

Christmas chocolate display

Then a slow lunch. This year we got to watch a World Cup game while eating at our restaurant. Pretty fun as there was a big group of Brazilian fans have a blast watching Brazil win 2 to 0. Each goal was thoroughly celebrated. I’m not a fútbol/soccer fan, but it’s sure fun to be around them when their favorite team is winning. Party.

World Cup at restaurant

Thanksgiving night we usually do a group family call with our kids while watching a cozy murder mystery or watch Macy’s Day celebration on YouTube together. Here is this year Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2022 | FULL – YouTube.

Thanksgiving Dinner Scam

We do have a local that every year scams new expats by selling them a home cooked traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but then never delivering it.

Several long-term expats mention it on local expat Facebook groups as a warning every year.

Pay attention to your local Facebook expat group for the town you live in, incidentally. It can be helpful at times.


Remember, it’s just a being grateful celebration. Make it your own. Do a FaceTime video call with family. Have them put their phone on the table while everyone eats and speaks with you. Watch a favorite holiday movie at the same time while on the phone.

The more years you’re away from the US or Canada, the more it fades away as a holiday, unless you throw a Friendsgiving or attend one every year.

We hang out with our adult children almost as much as when they lived with us.