No, you didn’t read that wrongly.
Tonight I’m thinking lots of USA, and decided just to come out of recent busyness in life and rest from online activity, to remember fondly a fabulous day last year.
I was an honoured guest of beautiful, humble folks in Redding, California, who happen to be Senior Leaders at a well known large church in that city.
It was a privileged time and one of the highlights of those entire 9 months.
For me, Thanksgiving is the best holiday, it’s like British Isles Christmas dinner, and full-on feasting, but none of the pressure or expense of Christmas and the presents associated with it.
Last year, after traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, an expensive California white wine, and enough to feed the five thousand, we each took turns to speak and share around the dinner table of what we were particularly thankful for during that past 12 months.
The sincerity of the answers I listened to, led by the gentleman who was the head of the household, was really humbling to witness and listen to. In our sarcastic, cynical culture in Northern Ireland, it’s hard to even imagine – sadly- this kind of thing taking place at all, let alone sincerely and not as a jackass mockery or comedy scene.
I’m pretty sure this part of the world has a lot to learn about everyday attitudes of gratitude. I include myself in this statement.
One of the things real American families still love to do, on such rare days off from the normal hard working schedule, is sit around and play board games. This might sound pretty dull, but actually it was far from it. It ended up being an amazing night – once the dessert coma had subsided a little, playing a couple of creative games I’d never even heard of before, which definitely brought out some competitive streaks in the room!
‘Average’ Americans I’ve known and met over the years all go to bed really early in comparison to us in Northern Ireland, so Thanksgiving Day last year again stands out to me as a large group of very civilised, hard working (wonderful) Americans I spent the evening with, stayed up til nearly 11pm. (Yes folks, 11pm is a late night in real USA!! Bear in mind they’re often up at 5.30am as ‘the norm’ too, though!)
So as I look back on Thanksgiving 2017 in Northern California, I treasure the memories and am deeply thankful for that privilege.
Not least as ferocious fire took hold of that local neighbourhood in the Summer and the walk we went on after dinner last year, simply will never ever be repeated, by anyone, ever again. Very shockingly. The house and home where I was blessed to spend Thanksgiving last November was very sadly the only home miraculously left standing when the Carr Fire swept through unforgivingly in July.
Thanksgiving Day this year has been somewhat less exciting, but I’m choosing to look back on the last 12 eventful months with sincere gratitude nonetheless.
With a good old Irish cup of tea instead.