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My First Thanksgiving Day in the United States and my Impressions of the US as a Graduate Student in 1960

Updated on April 29, 2015

The Katague Clan on Thanksgiving Day. 2010

Source

Thanksgiving Day Family Reunion, 2010

My first thanksgiving celebration was in 1960. The experience prompted me to write an article promoting hospitality programs to foreign students so they will have a good impression of America.

The picture on this page was taken during the David B Katague family reunion Thanksgiving day-2010

First Thanksgiving Day in the US. 1960

Me. Macrine and Dodie in Danville, Illinois spending our first turkey dinner in the US
Me. Macrine and Dodie in Danville, Illinois spending our first turkey dinner in the US | Source

First Thanksgiving Day in the United States

It was a cold November day in 1960 when my wife, Macrine and I with our oldest son, Dodie (who was only 2 years old then) experienced our first Thanksgiving celebration in the United States. That year, I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois at the Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.

The Chicago Hospitality Center along with the Young Men Christian Assocaition (YMCA) and the Christian Family Movement (CFM) invites all foreign students in the area to spend a thanksgiving weekend in the homes of volunteers in small towns of central Illinois away from the crowded city of Chicago during the Thanksgiving holidays.

Some of my foreign student friends were reluctant and did not accept the invitation. I had an adventurous spirit so with great anticipation, Macrine and I along with Dodie went with twelve other foreign students and their families to Central Illinois.

Our host for that weekend was Mrs. Johnston, a widow from Danville, Illinois. She lives alone in her beautiful bungalow house right in downtown Danville. We left Chicago in the morning, had thanksgiving dinner (turkey and all its trimmings) in late afternoon. This was followed by a program in the evening at a local community center, where all the local hosts met and socialized with other invited students from Korea, Iran, Mexico, Japan, Chile, South Africa, Egypt and the Philippines. Macrine, Dodie and I represented the Philippines.

The next day we had a grand tour of the area, the farms and then to Springfield, the capital of Illinois. The tour of the area and Springfield was the highlight of our two days break from our hectic schedules as graduate students.

When I returned to Chicago, my American classmates asked me if I like the roasted turkey? I said a resounding no. They all looked at me with eyes telling me, I am a stupid foreigner. I told them that was the first time I had turkey in my life. In the Philippines we do not celebrate Thanksgiving and I had never tasted turkey before. I did not like the pumpkin pie either. What I enjoyed was the oyster stuffing, ice cream for dessert and the cranberries sauce. (Today, I love turkey, but prefer honey-baked ham for our Thanksgiving dinners).

You may ask me why I write this article today. Well, to thank the Lord for all the good things and blessings during the past 51 years, He has given me and my family.


David B. Katague and Other Foreign Students, 1961

David Katague with other students from the University of Illinois at the Medical Center in Chicago getting ready for our thanksgiving weekend in Central Illinois sponsored by the Chicago Hospitality Center, 1961
David Katague with other students from the University of Illinois at the Medical Center in Chicago getting ready for our thanksgiving weekend in Central Illinois sponsored by the Chicago Hospitality Center, 1961

My Impressions of the US as A Graduate Student in 1960

The experience that I had that Thanksgiving Day in 1960 prompted me to write an article of my impressions of the US as a graduate student at that time. I wrote this article after graduation and after we joined the CFM orgnization in Kansas City, Missouri a year later. The article was first published by the Christian Family Movement in their monthly magazine, ACT, in 1961. I titled it Our Impressions of America.

During our first year in Chicago, we never received an invitation to participate in the hospitality program. Our name was probably buried in the list of foreign students or perhaps our foreign student adviser was sleeping in her job. During this first year of adjustment to the American way of life, we formed a very wrong impression of Americans. Asides from our daily contacts with fellow students in the school rooms or dormitories, our only other social contacts were people in the streets, subways, buses, department stores, supermarkets and other public places.

These were all artificial contacts, giving us an impression that Americans are unfriendly, artificial, insincere, apathetic, intolerant and above all ignorant. The latter adjective was quite true, since the ordinary or typical American does not have the vaguest idea where the Philippines, Japan or even Puerto Rico is located in the map.

However, in our second year, we began receiving invitations to spend a weekend in suburban homes as well as dinner invitations in city homes in the Chicago area. At first, we were reluctant to accept the invitations, however with our adventurous spirit, we said yes.

From then on, "we have the whole world in our hands". We are thankful to CFM, the YWCA and the Hospitality Center of Chicago for making our stay in the Chicago area filled with pleasant memories.

On the other hand what impressions could we have brought back to the Philippines, if our stay was limited to one or two years (true for exchange visitors)? How many visitors and exchange scholars brought home with them the wrong impressions and attitude towards the American people in general? I knew there were a few foreign students in the dormitories who were disillusioned about the United States. One of them was a former dorm mate from Chile. He received an invitation, but never did conquer his apprehension of accepting one.

At present as a couple leader of CFM first interfaith group in our diocese, we will do our very best to reciprocate, promote, and encourage hospitality programs to foreign students and scholars in our area. We believe that opening our homes and our hearts on weekends and holidays, is one of the best ways of promoting world peace and understanding.

Let us then make it possible for foreign students and scholars to get the true picture of America and its people. Let us give them the opportunity to share with us our way of life. Let us get busy as a group or perhaps join other groups in order that we can show to the future leaders of the world, how sincere, friendly and aware we are of other human beings in other parts of the world. This is one of the many ways we could be more Christlike, we believe.

Dungeness Crab Thanksgiving Day Dinner, 2010

My Favorite Quotes on Thanksgiving

Our 52 year celebrating Thanksgiving Day

Today is our 52 year celebrating Thanksgiving Day here in US. It's a day when my wife use her real china and silver for a formal dinner-table setting. The following are some of my favorite quotes for this day. We thank the Lord with all our hearts and soul for all the 52 years of Thanksgiving Day, that my family had enjoy.

Here's some quotes for your dessert, just in case you did not have enough turkey or honey baked ham.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”

― Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

“I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”

― Jon Stewart

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.”

― Erma Bombeck

“I like football. I find its an exciting strategic game. It's a great way to avoid conversation with your family at Thanksgiving.”

― Craig Ferguson

“Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for -- annually, not oftener -- if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments.”

― Mark Twain

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”

― W.T. Purkiser

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual…O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

― Henry David Thoreau

Thanksgiving was nothing more than a pilgrim-created obstacle in the way of Christmas; a dead bird in the street that forced a brief detour.”

― Augusten Burroughs, You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas

“The funny thing about Thanksgiving ,or any big meal, is that you spend 12 hours shopping for it then go home and cook,chop,braise and blanch. Then it's gone in 20 minutes and everybody lies around sort of in a sugar coma and then it takes 4 hours to clean it up.”

― Ted Allen, The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes

“There is no Thanksgiving back in the old country where I come from. You know why? Because being thankful is a sin.”

― Craig Ferguson

“I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I've seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives.”

― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

“Let us give thanks to God above,

Thanks for expressions of His love,

Seen in the book of nature, grand

Taught by His love on every hand.

Let us be thankful in our hearts,

Thankful for all the truth imparts,

For the religion of our Lord,

All that is taught us in His word.

Let us be thankful for a land,

That will for such religion stand;

One that protects it by the law,

One that before it stands in awe.

Thankful for all things let us be,

Though there be woes and misery;

Lessons they bring us for our good-

Later 'twill all be understood.

Thankful for peace o'er land and sea,

Thankful for signs of liberty,

Thankful for homes, for life and health,

Pleasure and plenty, fame and wealth.

Thankful for friends and loved ones, too,

Thankful for all things, good and true,

Thankful for harvest in the fall,

Thankful to Him who gave it all.”

― Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moore

Turkey Dinner

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    • chateaudumer profile image
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      David B Katague 2 years ago from Northern California and the Philippines

      Hi Bill thanks for dropping by. Have a Great Day!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always interesting hearing different perspectives about the United States and this one about Thanksgiving. I happen to love turkey but I only eat it one day each year, which in itself is a bit strange. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.