Is it just me: wasn't Thanksgiving meant to be the last Thursday of the month?
I nearly missed it this year: I was all psyched for next Thursday - living in London, it's not like everyone's talking about it - and if it wasn't for one of my many American friends happening to mention on Monday that she couldn't believe it was Thanksgiving already.. anyway, the thing about Thanksgiving is, it has nothing to do with nationality, or religion.
Anyone can own this holiday. All you need to do is cook. Or show up where someone else has cooked. You don't need to come bearing gifts. You just need to have an attitude of gratitude.
And this year we had the world's smallest Thanksgiving: just me, my husband, and the cat. Corn fed Devon 'freedom food' chicken (don't ask me what that means: I just hope she had a good life) roasted with garlic, butter, leaks and thyme, tons & tons of unbelievably wonderful stuffing - a whole giant souffle of stuffing - brussel sprouts with home made maple cured Danish ham and cream, braised fennel, thinly sliced raw fennel with olive oil and sea salt, roast potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks and fennel with rosemary, spinach souffle, fresh spiced cranberry sauce with orange zest, baked sweet potato (which I forgot to serve, it's on the leftover menu tonight), and for dessert, two pumpkin pies - one shown here - vanilla ice cream, and dark chocolate with ginger.
Because I had been doing everything in such a chilled way, starting on Tuesday, dinner was smack on time - to the minute - with scented candles and Bach playing. Very grown up and civilised, until the husband and cat had so much roast chicken in their systems that they started going mental. Feral. Fighting and chasing each other all over the house, like kids at a birthday party on too much sugar, until they worked themselves into a stupor, and crashed. Deep asleep.
This year, starting with last New Year's Eve, I lost the three most important of the older men in my life since my father died. They weren't only my loss, of course: they were each deeply loved by their family, friends, and spouses. I have many friends who lost a parent or loved one. One friend, my best friend since childhood, Sheila Fein, a brilliant artist who lost her mother this year, became a grandmother herself, for the first time.
And all through this, I don't think I've seen more of an attitude of gratitude than I'm seeing and feeling all around me. All the toxic friends - and family - seem to have melted away. They can go off being nasty to someone else. All I'm surrounded with now are loved ones, friends old and new, who feel the way I do about life. About what matters.
Today, in yoga class, our teacher spoke quietly, while we were breathing at the end of class, and asked us to picture the Middle East. Picture children laughing, free, on both sides of the wall. To picture peace. Lasting peace.
I haven't lost the people I lost: they are with me, all the time. The only thing that is lost, when Sandy first blasted her way onto the Eastern Seaboard, are the bottom 100 feet of the wooden stairs leading to my father's beach. They told my mom, who was safely in Florida, before the storm even hit, the stairs were gone. I pictured them, 100 feet of wooden stairs, floating off to sea, like Noah's Ark.
But that is the worst that happened. When Sandy left, a neighbour told my mother she could see a rainbow reaching down and touching the roof of her house. And the beach is still there. Waiting for our return.