Giving thanks

English: A can of pureed pumpkin made by One-Pie.

Try it. Trust me. It’s really nice!  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I am mainly celebrating Thanksgiving. On Wednesday at my son’s school, on Thursday at our house, and on Saturday at someone else’s. Given I’m not even American I find this somewhat amusing and I’m a little terrified of what it will do to my waistline mere moments away from the Christmas season, but as it is my favourite time of the year, I am willing to suffer the once, twice, nay thrice agony of turkey dinners and pumpkin pies.

I LOVE Thanksgiving. It is totally the best holiday ever and I am so pleased I married an American so that I get to celebrate it. It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with family and friends and breaking bread together. What could be more perfect than spending a day with your loved ones just eating and being together? “It’s just like Christmas!” I hear you cry – and it sort of is – but without any virgins or babies or donkeys or manic gift buying or endless George Michael/Paul McCartney/Aled Jones (delete as appropriate) pumping from every shop and restaurant, or thank you note writing or days and days of sitting about eating yet more crap during that dead bit between the 25th and 31st December that no-one talks about or the sheer pressure to perform that seems to leak into every corner of Christmas.

Thanksgiving…far more chilled. Turkey, trimmings, pie, wine. Of course to say it was a piece of cake would belittle my own preparations which so far have run to something close to a military operation and are about to turn red alert. It is hard work to pull off a three course dinner for ten and still have time to enjoy it, of course it is. But the whole premise of Thanksgiving – to just share a meal and be thankful for the company you share it with – well, there is just something magical about it I love.

Despite being several time zones and a half day’s flight away from the US, every year we celebrate Thanksgiving. We have had many people grace our table over the years – and sometimes it’s been just us and a chicken – but it’s something we make the effort to do even though our family is so distant. Especially because they are so distant. It is a way of reconnecting, of reminding us of home, of making traditions for our little family and sharing them with others. In fact I’m always surprised just how much people from other countries also love to celebrate Thanksgiving. I think it’s the feeling of inclusiveness and of togetherness that it instills, that makes it a pretty feel-good thing to do in the remote expatriate world that we live in. I look forward to one day sharing it again with our families, wrapped up warm and cozy by a fire, but in the meantime I can’t think of a better way to start the seasonal madness than tucking into turkey by torchlight in the back garden, surrounded by the friends new and old that we have made during our time here.

A friend of mine invited us to their Thanksgiving many years ago (before my husband and I owned a table I think). She introduced me to the most lovely tradition which I annually force my guests to participate in (the Brits in particular loathe it but it’s my table, my rules). After a toast from the host, we go around the table and all say something we are thankful for. Schmaltzy, much? Oh yeah. But it reminds us to be thankful, to consider that there is something in each of our lives that is worth stopping to think about and truly value in that moment.

What am I thankful for? Well, it’s hard to say. I don’t normally divulge, or even think about it until it’s my turn around the table. But I guess this year I am thankful for a whole lot. For being content. For finding my place in this world again. For my boys, the big and the little,whom I love so dearly and who give me so much joy. For not feeling lonely or homesick for the first time in a long time. For reigniting my passion for theatre and writing and finding time to do both. For looking forward to the future but not wishing away the here and now. For living what is really the most wonderful life I could ever have dreamed of. And finally, for the 8kg turkey I am attempting to shoehorn into the oven on Thursday.

Happy Turkey Day