Thursday, November 27, 2014

An Unusual Thanksgiving

Have you ever spent an American holiday in another country?

In 1992, Ed and I were in Edinburgh, Scotland, with Daughter Becky and Aunt Clyde.  We were enjoying a wonderful vacation at the end of Becky’s London semester as a student at Samford University.   The three of us met Becky in London, rented a car and took off to explore the English and Scottish countryside. 

Those ten days of traveling in that part of the world in late November gave us insights into many things we had only read about.  First of all, the weather was appropriately awful.  Cold, damp, misty rain…I soon realized the best purchase I made for the trip was my London Fog coat with the zip out lining.  I never zipped the lining out!  It was the kind of weather England is supposed to have. 

Another thing we always hear about is the short days at that time of year.  We just didn’t realize that meant pitch black dark at four o’clock in the afternoon.   Something happens to your body clock when it gets dark no matter what time it is.  You start to sag, mentally and physically.  It occurred to us that maybe this is why the people in that part of the world are so accustomed to tea time.  Their work day is still going and they need a “pick up” to get them through to dinner time, which is generally around eight o’clock. 

Ed and I weren’t thinking one day when we began to explore a castle ruin in mid-afternoon.  Clyde and Becky wisely opted to remain in the car and read.  Before long, we realized darkness was coming on fast and we were a long way from the car, alone amid the partial walls and ghostly shadows in a place we weren’t familiar with.  The atmosphere got downright spooky.  We couldn’t get back to the car fast enough.  It gave me a newfound respect for the characters in those Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen novels.  I can see that having to deal with the darkness with just candlelight and occasional moonlight would make you susceptible to all manner of creepy thoughts.  It seems the darkness takes over and holds you captive until morning.

Thanksgiving Day found us enjoying the sights in Edinburgh.  At the recommendation of our hotel, we made reservations at a very nice restaurant just down the hill from Edinburgh Castle and feasted at midday on pheasant and salmon – no turkey.  To the people around us, it was just another Thursday.  For us, it was a grand and glorious occasion and we were thankful to be able to share this experience together.  When our lunch was over, we pulled our coats on and strolled down the block to our hotel. 

The people of Edinburgh went about their day all around us, unaware that we had shared a holiday.  What a lesson that remains to be,  that a holiday is what you make it.  If there is gratitude in your heart, it's Thanksgiving.  And it can be anywhere - in Vero Beach, Florida, or Edinburgh, Scotland, or the moon!  God appreciates a grateful heart...a heart that acknowledges the blessings that have been bestowed by grace. 

Today, I'm just thankful to be able to be with my family... my children and their children.  And once again, I am not at my home.  I'm in Jacksonville, Florida, because of a family health issue.  But thanks be to God, we are all okay.  My husband is at home observing the holiday with his mother.  They will be thankful together at her retirement home.  It's a bit strange, but we have realized we are all where we're supposed to be.  And we know it's not about the food or the setting, it's about the love and gratitude.

How are you observing this day?  Are you about to take the turkey out of the oven?  Are you getting dressed for a meal at a restaurant?  Maybe you're in a foreign country where they don't even know you're observing a holiday.  It doesn't matter.  Be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.