Christian Pulisic has more to be thankful for this Thursday than just his goal in Spain last night, for today, by the player’s own admission, is one of his favourite days of the year.
At Chelsea Football Club, we have never previously had an American in the team during the last week in November so the opportunity must not be wasted to ask Pulisic about Thanksgiving Day back in his homeland. For many Blues fans who are not from or do not live in the United States, there is plenty to learn about Thanksgiving, and about how Pulisic himself celebrates it. He fills us in here with details on how Americans fill up on the fourth Thursday in this month every year, and about what the celebration is all about…
‘Thanksgiving is so special,’ he begins. ‘It is one of my favourite holidays back in the States. It is religious, the main thing is just giving thanks for everything that you have and for the people around you.‘You share it with your family and I remember we would have 20 or 30 family members – cousins, uncles, grandparents, everyone – along a huge table and we would make a huge feast. All day and the day before we would be cooking and getting everything ready and it smells delicious.‘Oh my gosh!’ declares the 21-year-old suddenly as he cast his mind back. ‘My favourite thing is this sweet potato and marshmallow dish my mum makes! It is so delicious and honestly, it is a really special time that you like to share with your family.’
Pulisic explains most people are off work and for school students there is a week-long break, which gives plenty of time to help prepare the massive feast.
‘You make a big turkey, that is the main piece, and gravy,’ he details. ‘You have mash potatoes, corn bread, those are just some of my favourites. Stuffing is a huge one – just amazing American food. There are all different type of pies – pumpkin pie is obviously big for that time of year.‘How much people drink depends. A lot of people will have some wine with their meal, but it is not really a holiday where you drink a lot.’
Other parts of the day
Thanksgiving Day has its origins in a Harvest Festival back in the 17th Century and although it can be a non-religious holiday, the religious aspect depends on the family according to Pulisic.
‘My family is fairly religious so we will say our prayers as a family before we eat and just give thanks for everything.’
And during the rest of the day? It is a big sporting occasion when it comes to NFL matches, and Pulisic confirms his family would always have a game on the TV. He supports New York Jets. But it does seem the food dominates.‘The day is kind of just the whole preparation to the meal, normally we have a very early meal and it is just kind of getting ready and getting excited and spending time with your family, in preparation for the big meal.’
Of course Pulisic’s football career has taken him away from the USA to Europe with his switch to Germany coming in 2015. Has he managed to carry on the tradition?
‘I have actually,’ he confirms. ‘I had a few American friends when I was over in Germany and we would just get together and have a small dinner. My family came out for a few of them.
‘Here this year, I will be spending it with Geoff Cameron [the former Stoke player who is now at QPR] who is another American over here. I am good friends with him, he invited me for a Thanksgiving meal.’
Following Thanksgiving Thursday comes Black Friday and while for some in the UK, that feels a very new invention of planet-busting consumerism with a reputation for shopping mall fights, Pulisic confirms it is much more of an established, historical tradition in the States.‘It has always been a big shopping day and everyone is out and about but I am not particularly a big shopper. I am sure I have looked for a bargain in the past but I am not huge on that day.’
So here are Christian Pulisic’s top three tips for a good Thanksgiving…
1. Get your whole family together and have a big long table where everyone can sit. Maybe there are 10 different conversations going on, but you are all family.
2. Make the biggest turkey you can find.
3. Try some sweet potato with marshmallows.