Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day is a Thursday

Thanksgiving isn't a holiday in Britain. It's just another Thursday. It's been nine years since I attended a proper Thanksgiving dinner. Eight of those have occurred since I moved to England. One was my last Thanksgiving in America, back in 1997. I was dating my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen (BQ), back then. My mother informed me that she wasn't bothering with a Thanksgiving dinner, that year, not that she would welcome a girlfriend of mine to it, even if she had been doing one. At some point, maybe in October or sometime, one half of this married couple who are friends of mine, Tim and Barbara, told me I was welcome to join them on the day. I have this suspicion it was Tim, but it's been so long, I just don't remember. In any case, I was relieved, because it gave me a real family Thanksgiving to attend.
I planned on taking the BQ. Being from England, she had never attended a Thanksgiving before. In those days, she was acting all nice and romantic. The poor sucker that I am, I was keen to take her to an American Thanksgiving dinner. Based on the invitation to Tim and Barbara's, I arranged for the BQ to fly over to New York for the holiday. She flew in Wednesday night, the night before. I phoned Barbara to check what time she wanted us to arrive. Barbara told me that she had decided not to do a Thanksgiving dinner, that year. I think she was having a disagreement with Tim, or something. This is why I suspect that it was Tim who had invited me...and neglected to tell Barbara. If she had known I was supposed to be coming, with the BQ, I don't think she would have cancelled.
There I was, the night before, my half Chinese, half English girlfriend having flown all the way to America, and I suddenly had no dinner to take her to. The only thing I could think of was to try to find a restaurant doing a Thanksgiving dinner and take her there. So, I ended up on Thanksgiving Day, looking through the newspaper, trying to find a restaurant advertising Thanksgiving dinner, where I didn't have a reservation in advance, and that was reasonably priced. At the time, I was working on a temporary contract for British Airways and the pay was minimal. Many places I looked at were too expensive. I called a few and they were fully booked. Finally, I found a Jewish deli/restaurant that was reasonably priced and still had availability.
I made a reservation and took the BQ there. I had never tried going to a restaurant for Thanksgiving, before. To me, it's an event to have in a home, with lots of friends and family around. When we arrived at the restaurant, the atmosphere just didn't seem right. Also, we were alone, no friends and family with us. No kids and old relatives you forget most of the time, except around the holidays. No distant, elderly aunts and uncles, who squint behind big glasses and tell jokes that aren't funny, but people laugh anyway. The restaurant did the whole turkey thing but some of the sides tasted a bit deli-like and the whole thing just wasn't right. I apologized to the BQ and felt very bad about it. She didn't seem to mind. She didn't know what she was missing, anyway.
We got married the next year, in June, of course. During our engagement, she talked me into moving to England. She had two children by a former victim and that next year, we couldn't afford to fly all four of us to America to attend a Thanksgiving. I had work on the day and when I came home, the BQ had a surprise for me. She'd checked with an American internet friend of hers and come up with a traditional Thanksgiving menu. She cooked a turkey, potatoes, vegetables, gravy, the whole bit. When I got home, her and the sprogs had laid out the dining table. They had the fancy table cloth out and all the places settings. They had even lit candles. It had all been done as a surprise for me. It was small, just the four of us...oh, and the dog. It wasn't a big, American, extended family Thanksgiving. There were no holiday shows on the TV and I had work in the morning. Still, it was a lovely gesture and I felt very touched. This was back when she was all nice and sweet. Before she turned to the dark side.
After that, I longed to take her and the sprogs to America, one year, to a big American Thanksgiving dinner. Somehow, it never happened. Then, in 2002, she filed for divorce. Not patient enough to wait till the divorce was settled, she locked me out of the house in early November. That year, I spent Thanksgiving living in my car, in a layby on the side of the road. The same person had managed to give me one of the most touching Thanksgivings I ever had and also the worst. For the past three years, I have spent Thanksgiving on my own. At least I'm not living in my car. A couple of times, I got small cuts of turkey and cooked myself a Thanksgiving dinner, of sorts Thanksgiving dinner for one. This year, money is very tight, so I haven't bothered with that. I settled for a Thanksgiving hot dog, with some cole slaw on the side, and some left-over cake, from work, for dessert. To anyone who cares, Happy Thanksgiving


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