Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Being Grateful for Things I’ve Always Taken for Granted by Sherrie Hansen

Those who are close to me know that I’m approaching a milestone birthday. (I’ll let you guess which one.) In some ways, I don’t think it will make a difference in the way I lead my life, or how I feel about things. In other ways, it looms over my daily walk with great significance.

One thing that I’ve noticed about getting older is that I appreciate a lot of things I’ve previously taken for granted… simple things like a good night’s sleep. I am immensely grateful for those few mornings when I sleep peacefully through the night and wake up slowly and languorously rather than being rudely awakened by a cramp in my leg. Life’s simple pleasures.

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As I get to an age where many of my friends have only one or no parents still living, I am daily reminded how blessed I am to have both of my parents still active in my life. I’m grateful for all of the things my parents have done for me, taught me, and given me, and that I have people in my life who love me, just as I am.

I’m thankful to have been raised with a hard work ethic, that I was not brought up to feel entitled, but with the knowledge that if I worked hard. I could earn the things I wanted and have the freedom to do what I wished. Those principals have shaped my life, and because of that, I have been very blessed.

I also find that I spend far more time being grateful for what I have and less time lusting after what I don’t have. It’s the realization that I have enough or even plenty of what I need, and that if I don’t need something, I should find someone who does.

B&W Blue Belle Inn

I’m privileged to have owned and operated my own business for 25 years, and to have served my wonderful customers, and participated in their lives, their special occasions, and the hard times they’ve gone through.

I’m increasingly thankful for my good health, even as it daily worsens, even as the definition of good has to be continuously downgraded.

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I’m grateful for a soft mattress, a sweet husband, nieces and nephews who make me smile and do me proud.

I’m grateful to have been able to see so much of the world, to have had the luxury to enjoy beautiful landscapes and picturesque places in so many countries.  I’m thankful to have been given the gift of an artist’s eye to capture that beauty in photographs, to appreciate art and beauty.

B&W View

I am grateful to have been given second chances, and that when I’ve made mistakes, I’ve had the opportunity to try again and again, until I’ve gotten it right, or even made amends.

I am thankful for the few, true blue friends who have stuck with me for a lifetime, and not just a season.

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I’m grateful for a Savior who forgives me over and over again, who loves me unconditionally.

I’m thankful that I have the right, the honor, and the skill to express myself.  I’m grateful for every single person who admires my art, listens to me speak, or reads what I’ve written and respects me enough to take the time to let me share a little bit of myself.

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Getting older may not be the most fun thing in the world, but it comes with its perks – one of which is that every so often you have time to sit back and count your blessings.

So, thank YOU – because I don’t take you for granted either.

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And to All a Happy Thanksgiving

It would seem churlish to write about anything other than Thanksgiving today.  (The other thing on my mind is the election and, believe me, that would be even more churlish.)

Problem is, everything’s already been said about Thanksgiving (including by me: see  Happy Any-Holiday, Wherever You Are).  As deeply as  I feel all those things, I don’t want to write in cliches.  So instead, I’ll post the Thanksgiving scene from DEADLY ADAGIO.  As with much fiction, this particular scene is based on a real-life experience.   It’s a different kind of Thanksgiving, but the basics are there: family, food, fellowship, gratitude.

Set-up: someone in the official American community in Dakar, Senegal, has been murdered.  In this scene, a couple of guys from Washington are in Senegal, investigating.  I’m leaving one name blank for those unfortunate souls who haven’t yet read the book and don’t know who’s been murdered.

  •              *               *              *

The two bland men with skinny ties who were seated on either side of Bruce were introduced as being “from Washington, to help with the investigation.”  Unsmiling,  but without the puffed-out chest Emily had expected, those guys somehow managed to look stern and submissive at the same time.  Maybe that was their intention.  And they didn’t realize it was 1998, or maybe they just hadn’t bought new ties since the ’80s.  These must be the guys from the FBI.

When they were seated, Bruce started off by asking her the routine questions she couldn’t believe he needed to bother with: name, age, marital status, address, profession.  She wanted to scream at him, “Come on, Bruce, this is me.  Emily!  We’re in the orchestra together.  You know Pete, too.  You know my name and my marital status and does my age really matter?”  She controlled herself, though, because she didn’t want to demean him in front of his Washington-guys.  Demeaning wasn’t nice and, besides, it wouldn’t be a good way to gain his trust so he’d divulge.

Bruce finally tiptoed into reality with questions about how long she and ______ had known each other, how well they knew each other, where they met, whether they knew each others’ families.  The Washington guys took notes on those skinny pads that she’d seen TV cops use.  Emily wondered if their note-taking was redundant, and they compared notes later, or specialized, with each one wring about one kind of thing.  She wanted to try to notice when their note-taking sped up and slowed down — maybe that would shed some light on the things they were particularly interested in.

When Bruce asked how they’d first met, she lost track of her status as interviewee and sank into the sweet nostalgia of remembering her friend.

It had been just before Thanksgiving.  Emily had gone to the Peace Corps office to offer to invite a couple of volunteers to her family’s celebration, knowing it was a particularly tough time for the young ones, especially, to be away from home.  It turned out there was a new Peace Corps Director, and when she made her offer to him, he said they’d be hosting all the volunteers.

“All the volunteers?  Do you have any idea what you’re in for?  Do you know how hungry those kids can be?”  She’d entertained volunteers in the past and knew first hand.  The brownie consumption alone was impressive.

Knowing the family would be in for a shock, Emily volunteered to help with the preparations, though not the meal itself, which she’d share with her own family.  She got in touch with ________ and the two women spent the next few days together, concerning themselves with how to approximate turkey with all the trimmings in West Africa.

“Fifty volunteers, so about 50 pounds of turkey.  How many turkeys is that, do you think?” asked _______.  “Anyway, I’m sure we can get them through the Commissary.”

“No, no, no, you’re thinking of people back home.  These kids are really hungry.  Fifty kids means at least 100 pounds of turkey, I’d say.”

“A hundred pounds of turkey?  How will we ever be able to cook all that?”

They found a bakery that would cook six big turkeys, leaving _______’s oven available for 100 or so baked potatoes — 50 sweet and 50 white.

Another logistical challenge was salad for fifty.  Here in West Africa, any locally-grown produce to be consumed raw and unpeeled had to be soaked in an iodine solution, then rinsed in (previously-boiled) water to combat the iodine taste.  The Peace Corps doctor and Embassy doctor were unanimous and adamant about this.  Many of the volunteers, young enough to consider themselves immortal, cut corners — and some paid the amoebic price — but ________ and Emily had shed their senses of immortality long before.  They gathered large buckets for lettuce-soaking and peeled the cucumbers and tomatoes so they wouldn’t require soaking.

________’s maid, Yacine, enlisted four family members to help.  When Emily and _______ tried to explain the origins of the Thanksgiving meal to Yacine and her helpers, they realized how difficult it was to explain something so culturally specific to someone from another culture.  They also realized how incomplete their knowledge was.  Between pictures, words, and pantomime, though, everyone wound up understanding a little and laughing a lot.

In the end, _______ and Emily became so close from preparing for the meal that their families had Thanksgiving together, with the 50 volunteers, of course. There were no leftovers except bones.

*          *          *

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, a murder mystery with a musical undertone.

 

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Writing Thanksgiving

Last week, I wrote and saw performed a very tongue-in-cheek Thanksgiving murder mystery called Merry, Merry, Quite Contrary, How is Your Turkey Stuffed?

Food - turkey

Today, on this day of Thanksgiving, in the midst of mashed potatoes, roast turkey, Becky’s sausage apple stuffing, and pumpkin pie, I would like to take a minute to be serious and express my gratitude for each of you who reads the words I put together.

Today, I’d like to share ten things I am thankful for, from a writer’s perspective.

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  1. I’m thankful for a publisher who not only saw merit in my work and took a chance on me, but who encourages me to write what’s on my heart. Thank you for not pressuring me to write what’s selling, or what fits into a certain box.

Shy Violet  Blue Belle, a contemporary romance by Sherrie Hansen  Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

  1. I’m thankful for faithful readers who return to my stories again and again, and clamor for more. It means the world to me.

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  1. I’m also thankful for those adventurous new readers who take a chance on my books, who spend their valuable time and money on books by Sherrie Hansen even though there are millions of others to choose from.
  1. I’m especially thankful for those wonderful, glorious people who actually take the time to write and post reviews of my books. I am quite convinced they are angels!

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  1. I’m thankful that I come from a family of thinkers who talks things through, tries to figure things out, and speculates on possible outcomes. From my grandmas on down, the family members who influenced me the most, know how to tell a good story, nurture imagination, and ask the question “What if…?”

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  1. I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed to live a life sprinkled with novel (novel-worthy?) experiences. It hasn’t always been fun. It’s been traumatic at times. But it’s never been boring, and writing about some of the things that have shaped me, in story form, has been therapeutic and uplifting.

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  1. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to live in and travel to some very exotic locales. From Scotland to Romania, Bar Harbor, Maine, Colorado Springs and yes, even Lawton, Oklahoma, my sojourns and journeys have provided amazing backdrops for my stories, and opened my eyes to unique people, different ways of thinking, and alternate perspectives. I love it when I can escape my own comfortable little corner of the world and experience the grand adventure of seeing the universe through other people’s eyes.

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  1. I’m thankful for a supportive husband who encourages me to write and helps me make time in my hectic schedule for writing. I am thankful for his little acts of thoughtfulness, like driving us places while I write away in the car, my laptop propped on the open door of the glove compartment – yes, even at night when the light from my screen irritates him.
  1. I’m thankful for friends and relatives who critique my work, share candid opinions, and let me pick their brains so I can learn everything they know about cows and everything else under the sun. (Yes, Victoria, you will get credit for sharing your expertise on cows in the dedication for Sweet William.)

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  1. I’m thankful for a God and Savior who created me in His image, and gave me the gifts of creativity, artistry, music and passion. God could have designed us to be obedient, robotic type creatures, but instead, he gave us free-wills, and imaginations, even though He knew both good and bad would come from our choices.

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My sincere thanks to all of you who have read my blog, and in doing so, listened to and shared my thoughts. Anyone who has experienced the thrill of having someone read what they’ve written knows what a true joy this is. On this day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you.

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Too Much of a Good Thing by Sherrie Hansen

I have a confession to make. I do realize how blessed I am to have family, friends, a wonderful husband, relative health and wealth, and more or less everything I could ever need plus many if not most of the things I want. I should be grateful beyond measure. But the truth is, I more often find things to bemoan or gripe about than I do to be grateful for.

Sherrie and Mark 2013

How dare I complain about anything, or wish things were better, or spend even one moment dreaming or plotting to improve one or another area of my life when I already have so much to be thankful for? Each time I see a headline or read  the prayer requests on Facebook, I’m reminded that things could be much worse, and sadly, may be, one day soon. (After all, I’m not getting any younger.)

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Part of it is being a perfectionist. I have very high expectations. If they’re not met, I feel sadness and disappointment. If anyone has a cure for this unproductive malady, let me know. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to be the best you can be, anything – anything – served up in too big a batch, has a way of metamorphosing into something sour.

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Power corrupts, and gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. We take our rights, and use them to destroy instead of building up. Too much of any good thing can so easily go bad.

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Thanksgiving should be about being grateful. Christmas should be about love coming down to save us. Instead, it seems that both holidays have become about excess and greed – shopping frantically and desperately grasping for things we don’t need instead of being grateful for what we already have.

Food - Pie, baked

So your turkey is dry instead of moist, or the crust on the pumpkin pie is burned, or it’s cold and snowy and the roads are slippery on Thanksgiving Day. So there’s friction from the family around the table or you feel the sniffles coming on or someone is late. So that beautifully wrapped box under the tree turns out to be something you never would have bought and don’t even want – please don’t let unrealistic expectations rob you of your contentment and satisfaction and the things that are really important in life.

This year, as you gather together with your family or friends, as you look around at the beauty that surrounds you, give thanks with a grateful heart.

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Quiet Gratitude, by Carole Howard

I’ve never been a fan of expressing emotion on demand, as in, “Before we eat our turkey, let’s go around the table and everyone say three things he or she is grateful for.” If people choose  to speak of their gratitude, I’m all for it. It’s the “on demand” part at which I bridle.

Don’t get me wrong:  I do experience abundant gratitude and I do love Thanksgiving’s focus on it. I just don’t want to be told when and where to go public.  For me, spontaneous gratitude is more powerful, more meaningful, more uplifting.

One spontaneous-gratitude moment happened when my husband and I were living in the north of Senegal for two months, in one bedroom of a house we shared with four (sometimes six) others.  We gathered for breakfast every morning with Déyfatou, her husband Mamadou, and their two daughters, Ayisha (3) and Fatou (18 months).

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Our housemates and breakfast buddies

Déyfatou, about 25, tall and thin, soft-voiced and shy-smiled, brought in the same breakfast fixings every day:  French bread, butter and jam; a tea kettle of boiled water made over a charcoal fire behind the house; plates, cups, utensils; plastic bags holding instant coffee, tea bags, sugar cubes, coffee-creamer.

The bags were the plain-vanilla kind of  bag, tied in a knot at the top.  Every morning, Déyfatou opened them and we took out what we needed.  (I was amazed that the instant Nescafe with dried milk, which I’d have scorned in my previous life, tasted so delicious.)  Then she closed them with a knot tight enough to protect against moisture and bugs.

A knot opened, a knot tied, every day for what must have been years, judging from the appearance and feel of the bags.  They were like ancient skin:  very wrinkled, thin and so soft you might mistake them for suede if your eyes were closed.  And likely to disintegrate.

One day, I was getting some aspirins from the personal pharmacy I’d schlepped from home.  I had Ziploc bags of aspirins, ibuprofen, and Tylenol.  (Yes, I had all three because I couldn’t know in advance what I’d need or want.)  There was Pepto Bismol, of course, and Immodium (ditto about never knowing), daytime cold medicine, night-time cold medicine, cough syrup, malaria preventive, canker sore medicine, nose spray, and many, many, more.   I was pharmaceutically prepared.  Perhaps overprepared but, as I said, you never know.

And as I looked at those bags upon bags, it occurred to me that Déyfatou might like to have a few to save her from the tying and untying.  And, perhaps, from one of those ancient bags dissolving in front of her very eyes.  So I combined the white aspirin, brownish ibuprofen, and multi-colored Tylenol in one bag and gave Déyfatou the two newly-emptied and cleaned ones.

My bags were not the kind where you push the strips from the two sides of the opening together to join them. Oh no, these were the ultra-spiffy and ultra-convenient ones with an actual zipper at the top.

They were a huge hit.  Déyfatou loved them in a way that lit her up from inside.  Loved them out of all proportion to their value.  Transformed her into a giggling girl as she unzipped and zipped them over and over.  It was the kind of reaction every gift-giver loves.

I went through everything I’d brought with me – meds, spare batteries for the radio and flashlights, wet laundry-storage bags – to produce some 15 bags in different sizes.  Enough for coffee, tea, sugar, and creamer for years to come.  Each one a series of knots not tied, not untied.  I was Santa Claus! I was the bag lady!

The thing is, Déyfatou wasn’t poor. Mamadou had a good job and she was his only wife.  The girls had toys and bookbags and hair ribbons, all bought in Dakar.  It’s even possible that if Déyfatou were in a supermarket in Dakar, she’d see the French equivalent of Ziplocs and could have bought them.  They just weren’t part of her life, and, besides, why spend money on something that’s not necessary?

If called upon to say something I’m grateful for at Thanksgiving, I would never think of Ziploc bags.  Yet, in that moment, I appreciated not just the bags, but also the other things in my life that I usually don’t even notice.  Too many to name here.

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I was grateful for the mosquito net under which we slept. And I’m grateful we don’t need one here in the U.S.

The big things I’m supremely grateful for – my family, my health, my friends, my life in a stable democracy, my material comfort – are easy to think of and, for that reason, the gratitude sometimes is a bit knee-jerk, a bit glib.  But the little things that go unnoticed in the interstices bring it all home.  And that gratitude is nourishing.

Would anyone out there choose to mention one of the little things in life for which he/she is grateful? Of course, you don’t have to. No pressure.

*   *   *

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio,  published by Second Wind Publishing.  She is working on a travel memoir (I Didn’t Know Squat: Volunteering in the Developing World After Retirement), from which parts of this post are excerpted.

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Today I’m thankful for….

I’m actually thankful for a lot of things and, since today is Thanksgiving in the US, I thought I’d share a few of them.

  1. My family.  I’m thankful for the family I was born into, the family I married into, and the family we’ve created over the years.  The family we’re “really” related to and the one we’ve managed to acquire.
  2. Modern conveniences.  Seriously!  I’m very thankful for things like electricity and indoor plumbing.  I don’t think I would do well a century ago…
  3. Nature.  There’s something about the beauty of nature that calms me.  Whether it’s the ocean or the mountains, I’m thankful for the scenery.
  4. Chocolate.  And coffee.  Hey, don’t judge.  Everyone needs a vice, right?
  5. You.  I’m very thankful for the readers.  For the ones who’ve read Ghost Mountain and continue to ask about the next book.  For the ones who will read it in the future. 

Thank you!

Nichole

Nichole R. Bennett has been an avid mystery reader from a young age.  Her first novel, Ghost Mountain, is available from Second Wind Publishing. When she’s not writing, Nichole can be found doing a plethora of crafty things, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, or spending too much time online.  And she’s thankful for the ability to do it all.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I have been fortunate to spend Thanksgiving a variety of ways.  I’ve done the get up and run around the house cleaning and helping Mama in the kitchen all while watching the Macy’s parade kind.  I’ve cooked a turkey in a smoker and had my family over for a late dinner as a newlywed.  I’ve eaten little and exercised a lot.  I’ve even spent the entire day crying in my pj’s having just lost a baby.  It was the hardest thing I could imagine but as my mother held my head and comforted me, she also reminded me to be thankful that I was healthy and one day the grief would not be tied to Thanksgiving.  I’ve never forgotten that I lost the baby but I am thankful that I no longer automatically dread Thanksgiving because of those memories.

This year  I am sure will be difficult again, just as the first one without my grandmother, or the first without my father, and the one we lost the baby.  My mother-in-law will be on all of our minds, and we will surely miss her, but we are going to be thankful for all the Thanksgivings we spent together!

This is a recipe that gets raves every time I take it to holiday gatherings.  I hope you like it, and that you have a fabulous Thanksgiving, and holiday season.

Cranberry Swirl Corn Bread Pudding

1/2 (15 ounce) can cranberry sauce

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup scuppernong blush wine

1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (Jiffy)

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, steep the dried cranberries in the wine until they plump, approximately 30 minutes then strain out the cranberries and add them to the half can of cranberry sauce.  Discard or find another use for the wine.  Mix well.  In a large bowl, stir together the corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish.  Pour the cranberry mix over the top in a zigzag pattern.  Using a kitchen knife, zigzag the cranberry mixture in the opposite direction.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

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Who is Davis Hall by Calvin Davis

Who is David Hall? I didn’t have the faintest notion. I had never heard the name before. The actor Ed Asner, famed for his work on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, I was familiar with. And I was casually knowledgeable about Troy Duran, who has done voice overs for Anheuser Busch and Jeep Grand Cherokee commercials. But David Hall? Don’t ask me.

But wait, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a little and explain. As I mentioned last month, an audio publisher wants to make an audio book of my novel The Phantom Lady of Paris. They gave me a list of possible narrators for the work, among them was — can you believe it — Ed Asner of television fame. Imagine the celebrated Ed Asner reading my…my words? Hard to believe, isn’t it? Well, I could have chosen him if I had wanted to.

The publisher asked me to describe the kind of voice I wished to narrate my novel. I wanted the voice of someone in his early twenties. The central character in The Phantom Lady is young. I did not desire someone who sounded like a college professor or a recent graduate of an announcer school, someone who boomed his words. I wanted a narrator whose voice was “everyday,” down to earth because that’s the kind of person the central character The Phantom is.

CSI DavidThe publisher said I have just the voice you’re looking for, the voice of David Hall. A little research revealed that David was a regular character in CSI, Crime Scene Investigation. He also appeared in The West Wing and L.A. Wing. I heard a sample of his voice. And I agree with the publisher. David’s voice is just the voice for The Phantom Lady of Paris. Can you imagine? I passed on Ed Asner? Me? A nobody. Saying no to Ed, a somebody. Huh, some nerve!

Before I forget, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to each of you. We have much to be thankful for at our house this year. Both my wife’s and my heath are good. Our glucose levels remain in tolerance–we’re both diabetics. Every morning when we wake up, we thankful we have another day together, something I become more conscious of since I turned 82. Vonnie has a book releasing on Thanksgiving; her publisher is in the UK and they don’t observe turkey day. I’m thankful for Second Wind’s continued growth as a publisher and their taking a chance on me a few years ago. I’ve been blessed in many ways. ~ Calvin Davis

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Happy Any-Holiday, Wherever You Are, by Carole Howard

Count me among the many Americans who think Thanksgiving is the best holiday.  My reasons are all the usual suspects: food, family, tradition, gratitude, and no presents.  (Frankly, I could live without the televised football game seduction after the meal, but I reluctantly acknowledge it’s part of the tradition.)

Being globe-trotters, though (see Trekking, Traipsing, and Writing), we’ve frequently been overseas during holidays.  There’s something bitter-sweet about celebrating from afar. On the one hand, I long for the nurturing feeling of home. On the other hand, my memories of those distant celebrations are among my most vivid and sweet.

Like the time, in 1974, when we made Thanksgiving dinner for as many of Senegal’s Peace Corps Volunteers as could make their way to our place in Dakar, the capital.  Now there’s a group of people who are hungry, and not just for food.  Mostly young, mostly out in the bush, sometimes homesick, the draw of a traditional American meal with other Americans was all but irresistible to them.

thanksgiving in senegalMany of the Peace Corps staff, both Africans and Americans, came, too; we loved introducing the Senegalese to our annual feast and explaining its significance.

We crammed a hundred potatoes, sweet and white, into our oven.  The bakery down the street agreed to roast our four turkeys (nice big fat ones, ordered from the Embassy Commissary) in their giant ovens.  Cranberry sauce also came from the Commissary.  The biggest challenge was treating enough lettuce (in permanganate, to kill any lurking amoebas) to make salad for 60-70 people.  Brownies, brownies, brownies — you can hardly imagine how many brownies we went through!

We might not have had all the trimmings, and the weather might have been tropical, but it was definitely Thanksgiving in all its food, fellowship, and gratitude respects.  Little did I know, almost forty years later I’d get to use the scene in Chapter Four of Deadly Adagio.

We were once living in Lomé, the capital of Togo (a bite-sized West African country about the size of West Virginia, just east of Ghana), on New Year’s Eve.  We partied on the beach and, just before midnight, took our champagne into the water, laughing and singing.  We knew the exact moment the new year arrived because, to our surprise and joy, all the ships in the nearby harbor blasted their powerful horns.  It’s not every year you get to welcome the new year while drinking champagne in the Bight of Benin, fireworks in the distance, with ten ships’ cacophony keeping the beat.

In 1998, when our daughter was teaching atIMG_2479 the American School in Casablanca, we decided to meet in Senegal and travel together.  As it worked out, we were in Niokolo-Kobo, the game park, on the first night of Hanukkah.  Of course, I knew ahead of time we’d be somewhere in Senegal at that time, so came prepared with little candles.  No menorah, but melted wax on a notebook did the trick.  It’s a very sweet memory – for me, anyway. No one else in the family remembers it, but I have proof.

And then there was President Obama’s first inauguration.  While not a recurring holiday in the sense of Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve, it was a very important day for me, and it occurred while we were in Ghana. At first, I was dejected not to be home for the inauguration, even more so when I learned there was no public ceremony or broadcast at the Embassy. But we found we could go to the W.E.B. Du Bois Center where the CNN coverage would be shown on a giant screen. I look back upon that singular moment as a very special one, surrounded by hundreds of other Americans and Ghanaians on a historic and joyful day.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 5.41.29 PMScreen Shot 2013-10-28 at 5.46.36 PMWe’re equal-opportunity celebrants, though, observing the holidays of the region we’re in, too.  Like the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice (Eid-al-Adha), commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, when families buy a goat and spend a month fattening it up so they can…… well, you know.

Hanging on to traditional holiday celebrations, whether national, ethnic, or universal, re-links us to our culture, to our families and friends in absentia, and to our country.  We feel whole.

What do you do when you’re away from your home and family during a holiday?

***

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, recently published by Second Wind Publishing.

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It’s that magical time of year again, and no – I don’t mean Christmas

Those that know me well also know one of my pet peeves is that Thanksgiving has become little more than a speed bump on the way to Christmas.

I’ve written in the past about my love of the Thanksgiving holiday so I’ll spare you the sound of me on my soapbox.  This time, I’ll tell you how I am celebrating Thanksgiving.

In October, a friend told me that she was going to post a comment every day for the month of November on Facebook about what she was thankful for.  I thought it was a great way to protest the dismissal of Thanksgiving and to celebrate the holiday all month long so I decided to join in.  I missed the first day but quickly got on track with a double posting for Day 2 of both Day 1 and Day 2.  I’m up to Day 22 and haven’t missed a day, yet.  There have been some days where I had to decide between more than one thing to write about and other days where the thing I was thankful for may have seemed a bit of a stretch.  Regardless of what anyone reading my daily posts might think of them, the one thing that has come out of this exercise is my realization of how blessed I really am.  Each day as I reflect on the things that I am thankful for, I find that I am less interested in the things that I don’t have or didn’t achieve.

In addition to the daily post on Facebook, my kids and I have started talking about Thanksgiving on a much deeper level than this event that happened in Massachusetts, or Virginia.  (Sorry, I am a Virginian and my father’s side of the family can trace roots back to the both the Mayflower AND the founding of Virginia – so I have to get my dig in.)

The message that I am trying to drive home to my boys is to be thankful for the people and the things in your life.  To treasure them and take care of them and to always be grateful for what you have and what is given to you.  My husband tends to bring it back to giving thanks to God for all that we have, and while I have no objection to that viewpoint, I want to bring the discussion with the kids to a level that applies to everyone -Christian, non-Christian, and Atheists.  At its basic level – the concept of gratitude seems to be missing in our society and if I impart little else to these boys, this is one concept I really want them to understand.

I’ve heard the objections to Thanksgiving as a national holiday and I can respect where people are coming from with their objections, but I believe that it’s not too much to ask that we as a country have one day where we pause and take a hard look around us to find at least one thing that we are thankful for and acknowledge it.  It stinks that the next day is all about insane consumerism, but that is a topic for another blog.

Happy Thanksgiving and I hope that each of you has 30 days worth of things to be thankful for!

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

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