One year we escaped Thanksgiving. As most Americans sat down to turkey and trimmings and pumpkin pie we were somewhere between Ohio and Kansas, driving from Boston to Breckenridge.

This wasn’t to avoid giving thanks for all the good things in my life. Believe me, I know I should practice being more thankful, instead of less.

However, when Thanksgiving Day approaches it brings a sense of foreboding for an expat living in America.

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” my hairdresser innocently asked me and unknowingly his question sets off turmoil in my mind.

It’s a simple question. But, for a non-American, it can be complicated to answer.

I wanted to say, “well we don’t really celebrate.” But, that sounded ungrateful, scandalous even.

Yet, when you have no extended family this side of the pond, Thanksgiving is only a reminder of the distance between you and loved ones. This all-American holiday on the fourth Thursday in November is business as usual in the UK.

If you’ve taken in strangers, know they are grateful. Be pleased you can share. Big-heartedness is always appreciated.

Some of you might welcome 3,000 miles between your nearest and dearest, and want to give thanks for that. But, don’t. Be grateful for relatives no matter how crotchety you find them.

In the many years we have lived here, we are often “adopted” for Thanksgiving. I am indebted to friends who take us in and love on us as if we are their own kith and kin.

If you’ve taken in strangers, know they are grateful. Be pleased you can share. Big-heartedness is always appreciated.

Yet, when the invitations don’t arrive it brings out my insecurities. “Nobody loves us this year,” I wail to my husband. Taking in a family of five can be a huge undertaking. Or anticipating an invitation comes with trepidation. “We haven’t been invited back,” I ruminate. “Did we do something wrong?”

So, be thankful this Thanksgiving for the guarantee of a place at the table. Remember the many people alone, serving away from home, or far from home this holiday. Be truly grateful for those you have around you.

  • Rachel, You’d never be an outsider to me. Just like I hope I wouldn’t be if I were in England. I could still eat my barbecue crisps and blog. I invited my Oz friends to just have a nice dinner with me. I have had many Thanksgivings that were less than memorable, crotchety relatives, yes, they can make you balmy. Thanksgiving is a mindset, and today I give Him thanks with a grateful heart.

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