Since we left the States for Aberdeen in 1992, Michael has been the driving force behind our continuing to celebrate Thanksgiving every year. We’ve had the pleasure of introducing our Scottish friends to a lovely American tradition, and later also our children, lots of laughter playing games afterwards, and a chance to join hands around the table and be thankful out loud for our many blessings. As Thanksgiving is an ordinary working day here in Britain, we celebrate it on a Saturday near the end of November. We’d hoped that Our Son could join us, but he had just started a new job, and couldn’t get the time off, so that was a very good reason for his absence. This year our Thanksgiving Day was also St. Andrew’s Day, the patron saint of Scotland.
This year when I woke up, my mind was on ironing tablecloths and polishing silver in anticipation of our dear friend T’s joining us for the celebration, as he has done nearly every year since 1994. For once I didn’t turn on the computer, deciding I really didn’t need to know what was happening in the world just then. Not long after, T texted from his train, referring to the dreadful events only a few miles from our house: the night before, a police helicopter had crashed into a busy pub.
The Dafter, who was already on Twitter, had heard the reports of unfolding tragedy. I was quite upset, but we agreed that all we could do was pray for the people involved, and try to be happy on our celebratory day. The reports extolled the courage of passers-by in assisting. Witnesses of the event, including one of our Members of Parliament, had apparently rushed towards the scene, and formed a human chain to pull people out of the wreckage. The Dafter and I agreed that Glaswegians are indeed very helpful. It pains me to say that many’s the time in Aberdeen I have been pushing her in the wheelchair and people have literally let doors slam in our faces. That has never happened here – whenever we’ve been struggling, people in Glasgow have offered to help. As the morning unfolded we heard that the city’s planned St. Andrew’s Day celebrations were all cancelled as a mark of respect, and Scottish flags were being flown at half-mast.
T duly arrived, and after hugs all round and a tour of the house, we cracked open the champagne. The Dafter reluctantly agreed to try some (“my parents forced me to drink alcohol!”) and this was the reaction:
Michael had done some turkey for the carnivores, and vegetarian mains for myself and the Dafter. It was a beautiful meal:
We all joined hands and said what we were thankful for. “So many blessings!” said the Dafter.
One of them was that she was able to sit up at the table for the first time since the 23rd of August. We hadn’t eaten a meal together at the table since then, so it was wonderful she managed on this particular day. She has had a good few weeks. After her very bad ME/CFS relapse in August, she has slowly worked up (with the help of excellent doctors and physios) to being out of bed a total of an hour a day. She’s begun going out of the house in the wheelchair three times a week for about an hour, with the hope of being able to go to school for 10 or 15 minutes a few times a week before Christmas. She was in fab form at Thanksgiving:
After our scrummy meal, the Dafter organised a short and hilarious game of Monopoly. Then she rested while the grown-ups went on a little walk. And then, dessert! I had made a pumpkin pie, and we had the unusual addition of baklava.
I’d also made a lemon meringue pie, from my Granny’s recipe, which turned out well. There’s no photographic evidence of this pie, so you’ll just have to take my word for it!
It was a beautiful meal and we felt that our house was finally a home. The reports filtering in from the crash site made us all the more grateful for each other, I think. This morning in the church I attended, five new members had been going to be inducted, but only two could attend because the other three had to work in hospitals or other front-line jobs. It’s the first Sunday in Advent, and I took comfort from the idea of the Coming of the Light. Also this morning there was a special church service in Glasgow Cathedral. Rev. Laurence Whitley summed up the feeling in the city very well, I think: “Our great and vibrant and irrepressible city shall stand together with our suffering ones and hand in hand go forward into the light, into the light.” Yes.