Thursday, 24 November 2011


I think it's fair to say that I am still not fully engaged in American life. Partly this is inertia on my part - I miss a lot of British things and enjoy trying to cling to them. But it is also that there is so much to learn. Not having grown up here means there's stuff I'll never get. I'll never have a college football team, or a home state. I'll never vote for a President. And there are so many traditions, customs and holidays that I haven't grown up with and probably won't ever truly understand.

And that's fine. I prefer Remembrance Sunday to Veterans' Day. I'd rather celebrate the 5th of November than July 4th.

But if I ever do go back to the UK, I would like try and take Thanksgiving back with me. It's a brilliant holiday and one which I can fully endorse. It's simple and easy, just good food and loved ones, and it serves as a legitimate starting gun for Christmas. Of course, I don't have an unruly feuding extended family that I have to cater for, so I'm guessing that some Thanksgivings are less fun and more complicated than others. I'm also aware that we aren't doing it quite properly. Although we can manage a green bean casserole, one of many delicious side dishes that differentiate Texan Thanksgiving from British Christmas dinner, we'll not be deep-frying a turkey and I won't be passing up on roast potatoes or parsnips.

But this is surely the glorious thing about Thanksgiving - it transcends America because at the core is a universal idea. I don't give two hoots for the Pilgrim Fathers, but I do have plenty to be grateful for. We all do, of course. I'm grateful for my incredibly hard-working wife and my indefatigable children. I'm grateful for my amazing family and friends. The giants of my life: my parents, my siblings, my school, university and other friends I've left behind in Britain. But also the new friends and new family I've found here in America, all startling and unlooked for, but heartbreakingly generous and welcoming. I'm grateful to be able to sit outside in my shirt sleeves in November. I'm grateful for the restorative powers of tea, toast and Marmite that are gently pushing the edges of a mighty hangover from my brain. And I'm grateful that this day exists: a day to remember how lucky and loved I am; a day to give thanks.

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