Yesterday was Thanksgiving.
A day when Americans get together to watch football, eat their body weight in turkey, and open a can of thanks on one another. They thank their hosts for a lovely meal, to which their hosts say thank you. Then the dinner guests thank them for their gracious hospitality. So the hosts find something to thank them for again. And so it continues until they either run out of things to be thankful for, or they run out of cranberry sauce. At which point shit gets real.
In my house, we hosted a Thanksgiving for those who haven’t a clue what it’s about. 7 British adults, and 3 kids under the age of 5. We threw in a Canadian for good measure, who added some much-needed culture and insight. And thank god we did. Without her it would have just been Christmas a month early, minus the Queen’s speech and a family argument, which is the worst kind of Christmas.
Here’s how the day unfolded. Click the first image until you see the full comment, then move right to get through them all.
The benefits of Thanksgiving are obvious – a day off work and an excuse to eat way more than necessary – but I’m still not clear on the point of it. Even so, in my short time as a U.S. resident, there are a few things I’m particularly thankful for:
The “Do not disturb” function on an iPad and iPhone. This feature must have been designed by a British expat in the Apple Design team, who grew tired of explaining the 8-hour time difference to his family. Thanks to him, I no longer get woken up by in-laws trying to Facetime at 7am on a Sunday.
Americans know how to do gas stations. Pay-at-pump technology that actually works. An endless supply of paper towels and screen wash. A full tank for less than $45. Obligatory health warnings that advise me not to drink the stuff. And best of all: the nozzle, which you can stick in the tank, leave on a catch, and then walk away from. So you can fill the car up with petrol, without having to squeeze the trigger for so long you develop RSI. From the top of my wrist to the bottom of my pocket, I thank you.
I can’t remember feeling energized by Autumn in London in the same way I am here. The colours are incredible – huge trees adorned with orange, yellow and red leaves, set against a clear, blue sky. And because of the drought, they’re bone dry so they deliver that satisfying crunch when you walk through them. Over here, the gardeners are especially considerate to leaf-crunchers like me. They use blowers to gather all the leaves together in a neat heap on the side of the street. Which I then take great pleasure in either running through or driving over. I’m thankful that I’m generally too fast for them to catch me in the act.
Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday are public holidays, and my company supplements this with the first three days of the week off too, so I’ve had a full week off work. I don’t need to explain why I’m grateful for this. But give me a few days off with the kids, and I very quickly lose the ability to process logical thought. This becomes a challenge when the occasional work email comes in and I need to respond. I can only thank my international colleagues for cutting me some slack, and accepting that my responses during this time have been most likely devoid of any sense or value.
So that’s it. Our first Thanksgiving in the U.S. is done. Hopefully by this time next year, I’ll be writing with great conviction and authority on its meaning.
But if I’m not, I’ll always be thankful for wikipedia.