Thanksgiving Blog Series: To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate According to Pete Hsu

Red Hen Press
2 min readNov 4, 2022

By Emily Morris

Pete Hsu is a Taiwanese American writer based in Pasadena, CA. His new short story collection, If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home, meditates on living in a world not made for us — the pervasive fear, the adaptations, the unexpected longings. This debut collection follows the fears and anxieties of daily life for all stripes of people and children. Order If I Were the Ocean, I’d Carry You Home now: https://bookshop.org/p/books/if-i-were-the-ocean-i-d-carry-you-home-pete-hsu/17875545?ean=9781636280530.

In this Thanksgiving blog series, Pete reflects on his own experiences with the Thanksgiving holiday.

Emily Morris: What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

Pete Hsu: I’ve been running a Thanksgiving 10K Turkey Trot in Topanga Canyon for the past ten plus years. It’s one of my favorite events.

EM: What foods and drinks are on your table at Thanksgiving? Any particular favorites? Anything unusual?

PH: I’m not a fan of most traditional Thanksgiving food. “Thankfully” my grandma and family always have a bunch of Chinese food out as well.

EM: Who do you celebrate Thanksgiving with?

PH: I almost always have Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s house.

EM: What are some conversation topics around your Thanksgiving table?

PH: Just catching up, nothing serious. No politics or religion, and no “what are you thankful for?” roundtables. Oddly, we talk a lot about fixing cars and appliances.

EM: What are things you watch on or around Thanksgiving?

PH: As a kid, we used to watch The Twilight Zone marathon. Now it’s mostly football.

EM: What are you reading this Thanksgiving season?

PH: I am reading Brad Listi’s auto-fiction novel: Be Brief and Tell Them Everything.

EM: Americans are starting to become more aware and sensitive to the history of Thanksgiving and the colonization and oppression of Indigenous peoples that it signifies. How do you personally reconcile the holiday with its origins and develop traditions that reckon with this history?

PH: I’ve always thought of Thanksgiving as a bullshit holiday, even as a kid, the mythology and even the supposed “meaning” of it was never anything that sat right with me. I don’t think there’s anything we can do to reconcile it in any symbolic way, like with new traditions or acknowledgement. In the end, we live on stolen land built on stolen labor. The only reconciliation is to return it to its rightful owners, but who among us are willing to do that?

Pete Hsu smiles at the camera

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Red Hen Press

Nonprofit independent literary publisher aiming to amplify unheard and underrepresented voices and improve literacy in schools. www.redhen.org