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How People Across The U.S. Are Celebrating Their First Thanksgiving


We begin our Thanksgiving show today with a look at this quintessentially American holiday through three pairs of fresh eyes.

CHRISTOF HEINECKE: Hello, my name is Christof Heinecke. I'm 22 years old, and I'm from Bonndorf im Schwarzwald from Germany. That's a little town in the Black Forest in south and west Germany.

IZABELA STALEVSKA: Hi. My name is Izabela Stalevska. I'm 23 years old. I was born in the southeastern part of Europe in North Macedonia, but I've moved in Switzerland with my whole family.

HUSANI DE JESUS: Hi. My name is Husani de Jesus. I am 30 years old. And I am from Brasilia, Brazil.

SHAPIRO: It's Christof Heinecke and Izabela Stalevska's first year in the U.S. They are both doing internships, Heinecke in St. Cloud, Minn., and Stalevska in New York City. Husani de Jesus moved to Washington, D.C., after marrying his American wife. They had all heard something about Thanksgiving before arriving.

STALEVSKA: So my understanding of Thanksgiving holiday is primarily where the family gets together. They share a moment together. There must be a turkey on the table.

DE JESUS: The story that is told is that it was to celebrate the harvest. Indigenous people and white people were sharing a meal and happy. I'm very skeptical about that idea. I don't think that actually happened.

HEINECKE: People come together, and then you make a turkey and eat. But the more important is, like, the Black Friday afterwards that people are freaking out about shopping.

SHAPIRO: Heinecke says he's not sure he wants to participate in Black Friday. He says he's on a budget, but he's really looking forward to today's feast.

HEINECKE: We're going to host. And we prepared all day long food - the stuffing, bean casserole, I think. And I made a typical German dish. The grandparents are already here. And we cook and we played cards. And we going to smoke a turkey and make one turkey in a roaster. So I'm really excited.

SHAPIRO: Sounds good.

De Jesus says he was excited to have a turkey, too, but that is not going to happen this year, unfortunately. After his house caught on fire, he and his wife moved in with friends, and he says none of them know how to prepare a turkey. But he says the situation makes Thanksgiving all the more meaningful to him.

DE JESUS: That resonates a lot with me - the idea of Thanksgiving, about being thankful for friends, family, being able to eat and being able to drink clean water, which is something that a lot of people in the world don't have.

SHAPIRO: That's Husani de Jesus in Washington, D.C. We also heard from Christof Heinecke in St. Cloud, Minn., and Izabela Stalevska in New York City. We hope they and you enjoy the holiday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.