I’m writing to you during our first big autumn gale. To give you an idea of how the day began, this morning I had to run around in my pajamas chasing a rogue compost bin (empty) which was bouncing around our small back garden, energetically and haphazardly playing ninepins with the rosebushes. Twelve hours later it’s no better out there and I’m glad to be inside on this wild night.
The early-darkening evenings bring with them a drawing-in of the heart and mind. As I sit here, cozy in our wee house while the tumult rages outside, Thanksgiving in particular is on my mind. Great Britain does not have a Thanksgiving Day and more’s the pity. It’s my favorite holiday. While sometimes “family holidays” seem fraught with misunderstandings, family drama and hurt feelings (or so Hollywood would have us believe!), what it means to me is family, closeness, friendship, food, laughter and of course, gratitude. Here, though, it’s just another day.
But I am very fortunate! Since my first wistful murmur seven years ago of, “I sure will miss Thanksgiving,” my husband, ever-indulgent of my strange American ways, has brought this lovely holiday to the Highlands for me. On our first Thanksgiving, not only did Sem invite a very dear friend round for dinner (who has happily attended every Thanksgiving dinner since), but he cheerfully tackled the cooking of a turkey and all the trimmings. Three years went by before he finally admitted to not being all that fond of turkey. Now that’s love!
I like turkey but am open to other ideas, and since then we’ve had goose, duck, lamb and, one year, we had rogan josh over basmati rice with poppadoms and homemade dipping sauces. Each year the three of us feast heartily and then, replete, we enjoy an evening of stories, laughter and cups of tea to go along with dessert (my one contribution to the meal). I haven’t even missed the turkey – it’s not wholly about the meal anyway, is it? Family, friendship and gratitude are what make Thanksgiving stand out, for me.
In my previous article I wrote about how challenging it can be to forge friendships, here. I was thinking about that today, too. While I no longer have the wide circle of friends I had “back home” my life is not lacking in friendships, these days. Much of that is due to that curious animal, the internet friend. In fact, the reason I am here at A News Café is because of internet friends! The world wide web has been a treasure chest of friendships, happily plundered for the finest gems. No wonder I’m thankful for my internet friends; my heart became whole when my then-internet-friend, Sem, became my light, my love and my husband. It has also been my very good fortune to meet quite a few of my other internet friends in person, too – some of whom came to our wedding from points around the US and even from Canada. But even my as-yet-unmet internet friends are as real to me as ‘real-life’ friends and in fact sometimes the closeness we share goes beyond what I have attained with many an across-the-table-for-coffee friend.
How can this be? Well for me, it all comes down to words written and shared. Most of us stumbled across each other in blogs of various types, and because I’ve found friends who write with their hearts rather than dashing off those 140-character “isn’t-my-life-so-fabulous” statuses, we have forged a closeness of truth. In correspondence with the friends of my heart, I get to share glimpses of their inner lives, and moments described with humor and tenderness and occasionally breathtaking honesty. It astounds me how brave and open my friends can be with their words, and how generous they are, to share them with me.
Often an understanding flows between reader and writer that could perhaps never be reached if they spoke in person. It’s a gift when I get to lose myself in my friends’ writings, and it is the continuation of a wonderful conversation when I can sit at the keyboard and write back to them as if they were here beside me. It is because of my internet friends (and of course Sem!) that I don’t feel quite so friendless in the Highlands. They – you – share thoughts, ideas and experiences with me, blessing me with your presence, even if only briefly. It seems perhaps a small thing, but when I realize how much my life has changed, and how little of my old life has come along to my new life with me, it is immeasurable to have such friends.
As you read these words, you are with me and I, with you, if only for this moment, though you are reading them out of the time of their writing. For a while we are companions, caught up in each other’s thoughts and lives, and in spite of our distance we are not alone.
Thank you, and you, and all of you, for sharing this moment with me. I am exceedingly grateful; not just this Thanksgiving, but always – for each of you.