Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year in the United States. It started as a harvest festival and has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789. The most important part of Thanksgiving for American families is to spend family time together.
“My favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. Firstly, it was my first holiday with the whole family in America. Secondly, the whole family came together. All aunts and uncles and their kids came to grandma’s. We played football with all of them, including grandma and grandpa. It was the first time I played it and it was so much fun for all. We had a great dinner with all the typical things you can imagine … it was deeeelicious! It was so great to be with such a big family and I really enjoyed that day. I will remember it my whole life, I hope.” – Swantje from Germany
Here are a few tips to help you have a terrific Thanksgiving experience.
Please plan to include your au pair in your Thanksgiving celebration, if at all possible. If you are traveling or will not be able to invite your au pair to join you for Thanksgiving, give her plenty of notice and help her make alternate plans. You don’t want to leave your au pair alone over the holiday.
If you are invited to attend dinner, please let your family know within 5 days of the invitation, whether you are planning to attend, so they may make plans. If your host family is unable to include you in their Thanksgiving plans, please let me know if you have trouble making other plans, so I can assist.
Make sure to discuss time off during this holiday weekend. Many host families work the Friday after Thanksgiving so do not assume you have this day off or the entire weekend. Talk to your host family, BEFORE you make any plans.
Bonus Tip for the Kids
If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your au pair, check out these turkey cookies. Find more fun activities and recipes on the Au Pair in America Fall Holidays pinboard.
Homesickness can be a problem during the holidays, even if it hasn’t been at any other time of the year. Au pairs often miss their friends and family, familiar places and their own traditions and customs. The holiday activities in the United States seem, and may actually be, different just at a time when an au pair would welcome something familiar.
It is common for au pairs’ emotions to be close to the surface during the holidays. Her highs are higher, her lows are lower. The enormity of what she has done–actually living in another country (which is an amazing thing when you think about it!)–hits her and throws her into a self-protective mode.
Host parents can help her through this unfamiliar territory by talking to her about what your specific family activities will be (gifts, meals, visitors, religious services, in-home traditions, or none of these, as the case may be.) In the spirit of cultural exchange, ask her if she has any favorite holiday traditions or foods that you might be able to incorporate into your family’s celebration of the season. Let her know what you will be doing, when you will be doing it, and what she can expect. Talk to her about what has to be accomplished and get her involved and interested. Don’t expect her to just “know” what needs to be done. Give her some clear, agreed upon assignments. Make her feel a part of things. And, let her know her contribution is needed and appreciated.
Photo: Sheila Sund (Flickr)
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states then others followed. It is now celebrated on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays).
Americans honor those who have lost their lives for their country by visiting cemeteries, placing flags and flowers on graves, flying the U.S. flag at half-staff until noon and attending parades. Children can be a part of Memorial Day too. Here are some links to children’s activities:
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” ~Maya Angelou
With Memorial Day just passed and Fourth of July coming up next month, I wanted to remind everyone about program rules on holidays and vacations.
- Host families are NOT REQUIRED to give au pairs any specific holidays.
- Each host family will make different arrangements on holidays, some au pairs will be off and others will be required to work.
- Au pairs should NOT make plans for holidays without checking with your host family FIRST.
- Au pair earns 2 weeks of paid vacation during the course of her year.
- The host family can pick a week and the au pair can pick a week, if an agreement is not reached.
- All vacation should be preplanned (at least 4 weeks in advance.)
- All au pair’s friends and/or family visits/vacations should be pre-approved prior to purchasing a ticket.
- If an au pair travels with their host family, it should be discussed UP FRONT whether this is the au pair’s vacation or if she is working.
- If an au pair travels with the host family to work, the host family is required to pay for her transportation, lodging and meals.