I love Thanksgiving, and I really enjoy celebrating it in England because it causes such confusion in those around me. Everyone has heard about Thanksgiving, but not a lot of people outside of North America (donít forget, our Canadian neighbors celebrate it, too) really gets it. Just the idea of having a holiday that doesnít celebrate winning a war or fails to imbue an ancient pagan ritual with artificial Christianity is enough to cause wonder in most Europeans. While many can admire the idea of a special day set aside for gathering with the family, having a big meal and ruminating on the good things in our lives, the majority fail to grasp the significance and near reverence attributed to the day by those of us lucky enough to have grown up with the tradition.
Visit any town or city in North America on Thanksgiving Day (except for NYC, where the famous Macyís Day Parade is held), go to Main Street and you will see . . . nothing. Thatís because everyone is inside, with their families observing whatever tradition it is their family observes on this day. There will be a hush all around you and the
unmistakable feeling that something significant is happening. Itís a lot like Christmas Day, only without the forced merriment, drunken parties and the ever-present sound of Slade singing, ďHere it is, Merry Christmas.Ē
The best thing about Thanksgiving is that is it a non-denominational holiday; it may have been started by Christians, but anyone can join in. It doesnít demand adherence to any set of beliefs, it doesnít require you to be a member of any organization or nationality, and you donít have to drag a tree into your house or send cards to people you havenít seen in ten years. So even over here (or, perhaps, especially over here) I make a point of observing The Day.
This Thanksgivingóhaving, in years past, fallen short in my efforts aimed at recreating a traditional American mealóI decided to go native. We had our own, private dinner made entirely from ingredients we could find locally instead of importing items from the States. And it was grand. The Paxo stuffing, the Bristo Gravy dust, the turkey joint (just try to fit a full-sized turkey into our oven) and the up-market cranberry sauce were all delicious. Iím not sure if this means the UK is become more like the US, or that Iíve been here so long Iíve become accustomed to the strange cuisine but, either way, I was not disappointed.
I am happy to report that only three swear words were required during the preparation of the meal and they were all used at once, when I dropped the pumpkin pie while putting it in the oven. Happily, and unbelievably, the damage was minimal and the pie turned out fine.
This, of course, all happened on Sunday; I was in Birmingham on the real Thanksgiving Day, working on a particularly recalcitrant installation while everyone in my native country was having the day off. We didnít leave the site until 9 PM. I checked into my hotelóa Premier Motor Inn on a nearby industrial estateóand went to the bar/restaurant for a chicken curry. That was my Thanksgiving dinner. When I got back to my solitary room, I had nothing to do but look forward to another long day, so I went to bed. And then I had the type of experience journalists probably dread: an event so perfectly timed and serendipitously placed that it sounds contrived. I dreamed I was riding on a train through London, looking over the night time skyline, at the glowing dome of St. Peterís Cathedral, the lights of Tower Bridge and the illuminated spokes of the London Eye, and a sudden feeling of joy and gratitude swept over me as I realized how blessed I was to live here.
Iíll spare you the details, and point out only that it prompted me to expand upon the theme in my waking hours, and to devote a portion of our Thanksgiving meal to sharing my mental checklist of Things I Am Thankful For with my wife (and then putting her on the spot by making her come up with her own list without the benefit of preparation). But I am thankful, and grateful, and itís nice to have a day devoted to remembering that.
So I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you have as many things to be thankful of as I do.
Now get your ass up to the attic and pull out those decorations; Christmas is here.
<=Prev Home Next=>