"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Sunday, November 27, 2005

My Strangest Thanksgiving

We're so often in Britain in November (this year being a rare exception) that I've spent several Thanksgivings there. In conversation with my spouse, we were harking back to our "strangest" Thanksgivings.

For me, it's the only one we've ever spent apart since being married. And it certainly wasn't a bad kind of strange...but was the very first time I'd spent Thanksgiving in a different country. And all by myself.

He was in Cameroon, in Africa, trekking about, meeting elephants and giraffes and monkeys and hanging out with pygmies and their chief. I'd remained in England, travelling on my own. For a while I was in Bath, a comfortable and familiar place, and from there took the train to Chester--ditto.

This is the house I was staying in.

Here's what I wrote on my strange Thanksgiving Day:

"The morning was sunny--bright, but brisk and very chilly. Frost in the shady places, and steam rising up from the River Dee. [Which was only a few steps from where I stayed.] I walked down to the riverside with my camera. Chased a robin around, trying to get a good shot.

my Thanksgiving robin

"Walked around the Castle and back to Bridge Street. Then on to the County Record Office, didn't emerge till 3:00 or so. Also visited St. Werburgh's. [At that church I hunted my ancestor Thomas Williams in the parish register, assisted by a wonderfully nice and helpful Roman Catholic priest with a saintly face.] Read in my room for a couple of hours, till 7:00, then braved the cold again to seek some Turkey.

"Thursday night is late closing for the shops, open till 9:00. Walked up the Rows on Bridge Street and along Westgate. Goodness, but there are a lot of shoppers in Chester! I believe I am the only American in town. I stopped in at the Chester Grosvenor, the most expensive hotel in Europe. No turkey on their menu."

"Pizzaland, across the street, was packed. Not a table available. So I walked on to Diner's Den, the local version of Pizzaland. Ordered a prawn and mushroom pie and read the International Herald Tribune. Cameroon are going to the World Cup!"

Pizza might seem like a strange Thanksgiving meal, but at the time it seemed American enough to me. In fact, I prefer pizza to turkey, so I was much better off. Just now when I Googled Diner's Den in Chester, I didn't get a single hit. I gather it's defunct.

My husband can easily beat me in the "strangest Thanksgiving" game. As I was munching pizza in the heart of my ancestral city of Chester, he was in Cameroon, eating his non-traditional meal with some Dutch relief workers.

But even that adventurous experience can't match his weirdest Thanksgiving dinner, which in fact occurred at a McDonald's...somewhere in Arizona. Before we ever met.

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