Happiness Around a Table

As many of you know, I’m a British lass temporarily living in the US. Previously unaccustomed to American traditions, last year we were Thanksgiving virgins. Kindly invited to celebrate the event with some new American friends and their family, I can say with hand on heart, it was up there with one of the best days I’ve had.

It was like Christmas but without the focus being on presents. In essence it involved a lot of food, noise, chatter, happy people and a plethora of overexcited dogs and children. There were no strange gifts of apricots steeped in brandy from a distant relation destined to remain for years beyond their sell-by-date at the back of the kitchen cupboard, (the apricots, sadly not the relation ); no more tie-dyed bandanas from a well-meaning great aunt Flossie; and no more pairs of amusingly decorated socks from the halfwitted uncle with a penchant for filthy jokes in front of the aforementioned Great Aunt Flossie and the children. Just everyone bringing a little something to contribute to the meal itself and a great deal of happiness.

Being at times unable to shake off some of my rather stuffy British traits, I do however find the group hand-holding and public verbalising in front of a large group of mainly total strangers what I am grateful for to be utter purgatory. Being unable to speak in public, (and by that I mean in front of more than a group of two people), as last year my moment for the firing squad of eyes to be directed upon me approached, my mind went blank, my unfortunate neighbour had to endure my increasingly sweaty palms and starry dizziness began to take hold. This of course is a classic case of brain becoming overwhelmed, body and aforementioned brain entering total paralysis, followed by a tendency to fall rather dramatically to the floor, thereby requiring smelling salts or a slap around the face to bring me around—the former obviously being preferable to the latter. However, with a hefty glug of wine and a determination of not wanting to let the British side down, I managed to stutter a little drivel about friends and family and excellent food. My darling husband long since being aware of my propensity to drop indelicately to the floor, gave me an encouraging smile.

He however was seated at the far end of the table, next to our hostess, the warmest and most kindly of women and at an age of well over eighty years. With total sincerity and a broad grin he looked her directly in the eye and confessed to being grateful and honoured to having been being seated next to the best-looking chick at the table. They have been firm friends ever since.

So with Thanksgiving once again just around the corner, there’s understandably a lot of talk at the moment of what we’re grateful for and I’d just like to say to everyone (without you having to hold my sweaty palms) that I’m grateful for all of you. For listening to my drivel, reading my nonsense and encouraging me and each other for our lovely little blogging world.

Katie x

54 thoughts on “Happiness Around a Table”

  1. I would be incredibly grateful if my offspring and stepsons took up my suggestion to stop buying Christmas gifts for the adults and only buy them for the children. So far, I haven’t managed to convince them, so the socks and hankies and weird home-made preserves keep on coming.

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    1. Ha! Well I’m thrilled! I genuinely enjoyed it as without meaning to sound too bah humbug about Christmas, it does sometimes get a bit overtaken with the presents (and I’m sure I also have fallen culprit to this!). So, yes, a really lovely tradition which I’ve thoroughly embraced! Katie

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  2. In my family growing up, Thanksgiving was the holiday my father loved best. To this day, he always makes it a fantastic get together with entirely too many pies. I will miss not being able to see him this year with travel being discouraged and all. Zoom just isn’t the same. Thanks for your lovely description. I never would have guessed from your writing style that you were nervous speaking in front of others! Me, too, though I feel like it has gotten easier with practice over the years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re so right, I’m sure public speaking does get easier with practice. But it’s sad that for so many years I avoided it. Never mind, better late than never. I love that your father enjoys Thanksgiving so much with all his pies! Savoury or sweet I wasn’t sure, but oooh I bet they’re good. There’s nothing like a good pie. Next year all will be well and how we’ll all appreciate it so much more … it will be wonderful won’t it! I hope you have a good time anyway and we can all raise a glass to happy memories of Thanksgivings past and most importantly the ones of the future. Will you be with others on the day? I hope you’ll have some excellent company nonetheless. Best wishes, Katie

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  3. Cross-cultural interactions are always fun for me to read about so thanks for sharing this . I’m also just glad to see you writing a bit more. I agree with you above person your way of writing is inviting. I can imagine myself sitting next to you holding your sweaty palm and giving you courage to speak. I do share some shyness and introversion but can have my moments of bravery. The liquid courage I suppose helps some people.

    The thing about picturing people naked while public speaking never worked for me. That just makes me sweat more! The last I’ve not really had much in the way of grand group thanksgivings with friends here or family back home in a while. This year I might just have a turkey sandwich without the bread and open a can of cranberry sauce. Which sounds lame but with a bike ride and maybe a holiday movie (the British Love, Actually being a favorite) will be fine.

    As for the forced gratitude well of course I’m grateful for many things and keep a journal. I wrote a post on how the science of that doesn’t really work for many people. It’s kind of hard to give thanks for Covid, Trump and unemployment and the rest of this should show that has been 2020. But we give it the old college try. I hope you and the Colonel at least have a nice meal and because you warm holiday together.

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    1. Thank you so much and I appreciate enormously the giving courage gesture with holding my sweaty hand … it’s odd really the things that frighten or intimidate us. It was one of the things from the cycling trip that really helped me—finding out from the challenges I encountered, which ones were serious threats and which were just how I was perceiving them, usually due to my current state of mind. Like you, the picturing someone naked didn’t work for me either. And yes, this year is a bit of a **** show for so many reasons. But next year will be full of change and wow how we’ll appreciate the interaction with others and just a bit of normality. I hope on Thanksgiving, even if you’re not doing the big celebration thing, that you have a darn good cycle ride … now that’s a great way to spend a day and I suspect I’ll be just a teensy bit green with envy. K

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      1. Duh! Of course you are, K!. I’ve learned to manage fear of getting hit and killed by cars but there are times where I’m out at night and there’s no lights and sidewalk and I’m thinking this is it.

        Fear hopefully keeps us from doing stupid stuff but also protects us from bad situations. The problem is when we go into fight or flight or freeze mode all the time and that’s hard not to do. Even modern dangers being not the same as a saber tooth tiger. An invisible virus is pretty scary. But only to half of the Americans who were wearing masks.

        Anyway I’m scared to bicycle across America because, hills! Also, dogs, rednecks, 18-wheelers, saddle sores, knee pain, poverty, cold weather, etc. So am I allowed to still think you’re brave and sensible for being a bit scared?

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      2. Yes, ok I feel better now. You’re big and tough and you still have moments of fear.
        I was scared by a storm which lasted 48 hours and I had every available bag/mess tin to collect the water which was seeping through the seams of the tent in the total darkness and being in the middle of a field had nowhere to escape to; I was scared having stupidly lost my glasses in the middle of nowhere (again) just in fields and couldn’t see my map or phone and my water was running out in 41 degrees; scared of finally realising my body was shutting down with exhaustion when my brain seemed incapable of thinking straight …. and scared by groups of men who thought it was funny to try to hassle and intimidate me …. so many things and yet in truth mainly brought on by my own foolishness. But I guess I learnt … and my goodness how great it felt afterwards to have got through it. And the good days were then even better. K

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    1. Thanks Katie so much! When I get back I think I’m going to introduce a Thanksgiving meal to the boys … not entirely sure how it will go down, but I’m guessing if there’s food they’ll be grateful. Am hoping to come over for Christmas … keep your fingers crossed and I hope that all is well with you at home?? Xxx

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  4. As always a wonderful read, thank you for making me smile on a dull English day Kate. Longing to do a Thanksgiving one day for the experience. I hope that you manage to avoid the sweaty palms this year… go girl you can do it!! Xxx

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    1. Aww thank you! Well, when we return we shall bring this Thanksgiving tradition back with us. It definitely has an appeal and everyone just brings something food wise which makes it all the better. You will definitely have to come! I’m heading over for Christmas with my fingers firmly crossed and will be staying (isolating) in Oxford with the boys. Assuming you’ll be at home?? Do hope all is well …. miss you lots and so much to catch up on. Xxxx

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  5. I love public speaking – it means I’m the centre of attention – but holding hands and saying what I’m thankful for… seriously, I’d not take it seriously… ‘Today, I passed a motion of which this house would have been proud’ sort of thing. Mind you my one experience of a true US thanksgiving was in San Francisco a few years back which was tremendous though the red cabbage and marshmallow coleslaw combo was a little too post colonial for this palette. They did give good turkey, mind. Have a splendid time, Katie.

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