Posted by: christinelaennec | December 1, 2013

First Thanksgiving in our new home

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.

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

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.

Thanksgiving afternoon, our living room.

Thanksgiving afternoon, our living room.

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:

The Dafter's first taste of champagne - YUCK!

The Dafter’s first taste of champagne – YUCK!

Michael had done some turkey for the carnivores, and vegetarian mains for myself and the Dafter.  It was a beautiful meal:

Michael the chef

Michael the chef

We all joined hands and said what we were thankful for.  “So many blessings!” said the Dafter.

Thanksgiving angels

Thanksgiving angels

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:

The Dafter on her feet!

The Dafter on her feet!

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.

Pumpkin pie and baklava

Pumpkin pie and 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.



  1. I’m impressed by your daughter’s positive attitude (“so many blessings”) when she’s had such a difficult few months.

  2. How lovely, Christine – your table looks positively joyful, and it is wonderful to see the Dafter full of life and joy, too. Your home is so welcoming and cozy ( I am quite taken with the painting above the fireplace) and looks like you are all settled in nicely. The pie looks so good.
    We have had video and reports of your city’s terrible tragedy all weekend on the news. We are praying for all those affected.
    Happy belated Thanksgiving to you and your family. Blessings on this first Advent week.
    Hugs xo

  3. Lovely day! I have to say your art nouveau fireplaces are gorgeous and amazing! Wow!

  4. Dafter’s champagne-tasting-expression made me chuckle 🙂 I am so glad you had a happy Thanksgiving celebration! We did too on Friday. For the first time we celebrated Communion before we ate. I am sorry to hear of the accident near you, and join my prayers with yours for those suffering.
    Gracie xx

  5. It sounds like a lovely family meal. I love the musical fabric on The Dafter’s top!

  6. What a delightful celebration, your dining table looks so welcoming and homely. It was great that the Dafter was able to join in and enjoy it. And three puddings – way to go! That helicopter accident was dreadful, quite shocking to think something like that could happen, but I can well imagine how good the community spirit was with Glaswegians pulling together. I wonder why there’s such a big difference between Glasgow and Aberdeen, but I know exactly what you mean.

  7. Sorry – I can’t speak – I am filling up.

  8. What a blessing your day was, and I am so impressed with all your delicious fayre! So great to see the Dafter having a good day, she’s such a treasure…that champagne-tasting pic…priceless!

    Glasgow sounds like a truly lovely place to live, and I know that the loving attitude people have towards each other will help them come to terms with the terrible tragedy of the helicopter crash.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. xxx

  9. “Into the light.” I love that. And how wonderful that you now feel truly at home in your new house and new city. What blessings, indeed.

  10. I was thinking of you on Saturday and wondering how your meal went and if your friend had made it. I’m so glad he did! Also what fantastic news that the Dafter made it to the Thanksgiving table. I am glad to hear she is having some improvement. That is so encouraging.

    Michael and I were so saddened to hear of the tragedy in Glasgow over the weekend.

  11. Like everybody I was very sad to hear of the helicopter accident in Glasgow. I’m glad, though, that you all had a happy Thanksgiving Day.
    It’s good to hear about the way people in Glasgow all helped, and that this is characteristic of the city. I suspect it’s unusual in being like that. I agree with you about the way many Aberdeen people will slam a door in your face. Here in Oxford, if I stand back to make way for a person who looks a bit vulnerable, somebody behind will either crash into me, or tell me to get a move on. My worst experience was in London, where somebody rushing to catch a train on the underground knocked me over and left me lying on the platform. Most people just carried on walking, but two kind young people picked me up and asked if I needed help.

  12. Beautiful! Wonderful news that The Dafter is slowly rebuilding her strength and had such a great day, I am eating pumpkin pie as I type. Can’t get enough of it!

  13. It looks like a lovely celebration , and as you say , in view of the terrible tragedy literally on your doorstep , another chance to count your blessings. What is nice it the simple sharing of homemade food and good company . Pleased that the Dafter is regaining her health and well being

  14. I’m so happy that the Dafter was able to join your family and friends at the table for your first Thanksgiving in Glasgow. That is truly a blessing, Christine! ❤

  15. what a heart-warming post, Christine! so lovely to see your daughter up and having a great time with you all. so many good sentiments are expressed here and I am happy for you that you had a lovely thanksgiving.

  16. Lovely to read about your happy family time.
    Glasgow’s spirit seems to extend from the small but important things of holding doors open to pulling together in the face of tragedy.

  17. Dear Everyone,
    Thanks for your lovely comments, as always. Yes, it was a beautiful day, even with tragedy nearby to sharpen our appreciation of all we have (and especially of one another). Thank you for your prayers for those affected by the accident. As of December 4th, there are nine dead and eleven people seriously injured in hospital.

    Constance Ann, thank you. The Dafter has been housebound for over two years now with ME/CFS and too unwell to go to school or even study at home, so her attitude is absolutely amazing to me. She is the bravest person I know!

    Karen, the painting is by Willie Fulton, whose work I think you know.

    almostnothingbutmusic, the fireplaces are reproductions, but we really enjoy them too.

    Fiona, yes I like the musical fabric too!

    bizzielizziekelso, Awww!

    Lorna and Flora, it really is sad the experiences of most modern cities in terms of people ignoring those next to them who may need some help. Flora your story about being knocked over and left just beats all… However, nice to hear that it was younger folks who helped you.

    Kelly – agreed on both counts!

    Susan, thank you very much. You’re right about how important the sharing is.

    Stacy, JourneystoScotland and Occasional Scotland – thank you all for enjoying our celebration with us!

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