The day before Thanksgiving, we were in a charming café with terrible food, watching Glenn Beck, a talk show host on the Fox Network. The episode's main premise was that the Founding Fathers of the USA had originally meant the country to be based on ‘Life, Liberty and Property,’ but that this last theme had to be changed to ‘Prosperity’ because of the slave issue. He then went on to echo some conservatives’ view that the Constitution and other historical documents have been misinterpreted, and as such, require new study. Beck was very concerned that the Pilgrims, whose arrival and eventual flourishing Thanksgiving commemorates, would be very upset if they had seen their ideals trampled upon by the Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular. America, he continued, is a country of individuals, whose allegiance is to themselves and their families, and reliance on the government for support will only weaken the nation as a whole. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_protests
In contrast, we felt pretty good about America. Laura and I have both spent many years living outside the country, so it was nice to be back.
Thanksgiving is a flexible holiday celebrated across religions (though you don’t have to bring God into it if you don’t want to) and cultures, so everyone’s welcome to garnish their thankfulness and meals with whatever they please.
The main thing is to stop for a day, to give thanks for all the nice things in we have in our lives. With no gifts or cards.
Oh, and you get to stuff yourself as well, since it’s also a harvest holiday.
Laura brought a delicious selection of cheeses, which she garnished with dates and the crispiest crackers. We wrapped lots of food items (wild Alaskan salmon, sweet potatoes, garlic and onions, chestnuts) in tin foil, and Daniel cooked all of these to perfection in the campfire. I made wild rice and tried to emulate Olivia’s amazing Brussels sprouts, which are cut into strips and sautéed with loads of garlic and seasoning.
We drank wine, tore off Kalamata olive bread, and all was well. Once it was dark, and we were roasting marshmallows, Laura looked at her watch and was shocked to see it was only 6:15.
That’s the thing when you’re camping in winter – it gets dark suddenly and you think it’s bedtime, but it’s always way earlier.
Once we had retired back inside the Airstream, Laura suggested we revive the American custom of going around the table and saying why we’re all thankful.
I started, saying I was thankful for this year off, an amazing opportunity to spend serious time with my wonderful husband and beautiful daughters.
Laura said thanks for the chance to study again (she’s pursuing a Masters in Spiritual Psychology and an eventual Doctorate in Relationship Counseling.
Sophia said thanks for the marshmallows.
Daniel declined to participate in our sappy tradition.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.