I've never been a very patriotic person. It's mostly a personality thing. I've always been suspicious of jingoism, empty platitudes, and flag-waving, no matter the cause. So who would've thought five years abroad would make me more patriotic than ever before?
Living in the UK, I discovered that I am through and through American: Of course, I have a loud, nasally voice. I also have no compunction about asking questions. I'm ridiculously polite and chatty with perfect strangers. And I have an undeniable rebellious streak. Oh, and I love Thanksgiving.
Phil and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving in the UK only about a month after we moved there. We wanted to thank everyone who had helped us with the move, and adjusting to a new country, and Thanksgiving seemed the perfect excuse for a feast and a party. Over the years, the tradition continued. We met more people, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and our guest list grew. Some years we had over twenty people squashed in our apartment, writers brushing shoulders with scientists, musicians chatting with teachers. I never tired of inviting people, listening to them reply excitedly: "I've never been to a Thanksgiving before!"
Of course, ours wasn't exactly a traditional Thanksgiving... or maybe it was truly traditional, more in the pilgrim sense than the modern American sense. People brought what they were used to at parties, bags of chips (crisps), boxes of Pocky Sticks, chocolates, beer, wine. But people also brought their own traditions, tempura, macarons, Anglo Saxon frumenty, Yorkshire pudding, and apple strudel.
So as much as I'm currently missing my Bristol friends, I'm very pleased to share that the tradition is continuing this year. The guest list is considerably smaller: we know fewer people, plus most people already have family obligations. But it will be a collection of old friends and new, and a range of traditional (though definitely more American) food. Plus I'm cooking a turkey for the first time.
More than ever, it reminds me how thankful I am for Thanksgiving: for time to celebrate old friendships and start new friendships, to break bread together, and escape the mess of the world for a few hours. A tradition I'm crazy proud of.
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?
Oh, and before I forget, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my readers!