Giving Thanks for Friendships

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Deb Segelitz
Deb Segelitz was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and is astounded to find herself living in the Scottish Highlands. Equally surprising to her is that she now has a small business restoring and selling old fountain pens. These two facts have convinced Deb that life is either beautifully random, or filled with destiny created by someone with a sense of humor. She hopes the fine north state residents will accept her as an honorary member, since she has some cousins in California who she visited once, but even more importantly because the north state folks she actually knows are fabulous people, who are also the reason for her presence here on anewscafe.com. An enthusiastic amateur photographer, Deb is grateful that she lives in a place that's about as point-and-shoot as it gets. Her tortoiseshell cat, Smartie, rates her as an average minion, too slow with the door-opening but not too bad on the food-dish-refilling, and her husband hasn't had her deported back to the States yet, so things must be going all right there, as well.
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33 Responses

  1. Eleanor says:

    Beautifully described, Deb, and a lovely start to my own Thanksgiving here in California (born on the West Coast of Ayrshire!)

    I am always happy to see your name as the ‘byline’.

    And thank you for the lovely photographs.   Ah, Scotland.

     

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, Eleanor!  I hope you have a truly lovely Thanksgiving day 🙂  I have never been to Ayrshire, but hope to visit one day!

  2. Matthew Grigsby says:

    I think I’m not the only person who is thankful that you’re a part of our community here. Beautifully said, as always, and a good reminder of how technology can be such a gift in forging and keeping relationships strong.

    Happy Thanksgiving Deb!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, Matt!  What would I do without fabulous internet friends like you?  Besides which, I have already decided that I am an internet branch of the Grigsby family, so… you know.  Tell the cousins you’re all stuck with me (from afar).

      Happy Thanksgiving!!

  3. Cathy says:

    Hi Deb,  I’ll share your stories about Scotland with my family today as we have our Thanksgiving dinner. I always look forward to reading your tales about life in Scotland. Happy Thanksgiving from Redding, CA.

  4. Deb says:

    Hi Cathy, I’m glad you enjoy them!  Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving as well!

  5. Peggy Elwood says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you from Redding….I am grateful for your stories.

  6. Anne Gibbons (a Glesca lass) says:

    You sure do have a way with expressive words evoking so much emotion. I can picture you chasing those dang bins in the morning and then making the most of the few minutes of daylight (well, it seems like that) before going in for the night. What a lovely “old man” you have that he would tackle such a feast for his wee wifie. For that, you truly are blessed. The pain of home sickness ….”home” meaning friends, family, familiar locations, smells, streets, words, and so much more…is a challenge for me to describe to someone who hasn’t ever felt it, but I know you have..and do! Enjoy your stories….Happy Thanksgiving and what did you make for dessert?

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, Anne!  You’re right about the few minutes of daylight, we have reached the 4pm-streetlights-on time of the year.  Sem is indeed a treasure, and he did a fine job of the turkey and trimmings this year, which isn’t surprising!  We are sated and full, finished with washing up, and having a much-needed coffee (after many cups of tea earlier – we will be awash!).

      Homesickness for the things you describe comes on suddenly, doesn’t it, and works on the heart for a little while before easing.  I send you understanding, and the happy remembrance of good memories.

      I made a Victoria sponge with real whipped cream and raspberry jam (Hartley’s of course).  It was yummy!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Grammy says:

    Thank you so much that my dear friends need to be reminded today that I am most thankful for their friend-ship in this beautiful World we live in.  One true friend (and if by any chance two or three) is worth more than all the cyber friends the “J and Ks” have.

    I am even luckier that my Husband and Daughter are among my besties.

    So much to be thankful for today.  A roof over my head.  A kitchen full of food.  A warm home.  A pet on my lap with a computer that tells me how lucky I am when I read the news from Daily Mail in Europe.  We forget how lucky we are right up until be see homeless on the streets of Redding.

    Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for reminding me.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, Grammy – it sounds like you have a lovely circle of friends, and what a fine thing for your besties including your husband and daughter!

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, it’s grand that you have such a good list of things to be thankful for – thank you for sharing with us too, there are good reminders there for us all.

  8. Dharma says:

    I JUST ADORE YOU! I always picture us hugging, running or rolling down hillsides or telling secrets beneath our pine tree. What a gift of a friendship that is….all the way from here.

    • Deb says:

      The feeling is mutual, lovely Dharma!  I have those same heart-pictures too 🙂  Not many people would drive allllll the way from Niagara Falls to a little Mexican restaurant in Amish country for an evening of laughter with “strangers” – you are one of a kind, and I’m so glad I know you and lurrrve you! x

  9. Barbara Rice says:

    It’s a bit late in the day, but Happy Thanksgiving to you and Sem!

    • Deb says:

      Thanks, Barb!  We’re still up, watching nonsense TV while burping gently 😀  I hope you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving, too!

  10. Judy Boyd "Granny" says:

    No Website here…just lil’ ole’ me saying Happy T-day, or whatever might grace your table.

    I must say Deb, you made me cry a little, but it was a good thing.  I feel the same about internet “friends”.  Personally I don’t do so well in person.  I can express myself much better on “paper”.

    We’re so fortunate to live where we do, and have what we have.  I would  like things to be a little different, (you understand).  I am 74, and in pretty fair condition for an old Granny.  I’m grateful for getting to know you, and have enjoyed your writings so much.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you, Judy!  I’m sorry to have made you cry a little, though I’m glad it was a good thing.  And yes, oh how I understand wishing things could be a little different. *Hugs* to you, I hope that you are enjoying your day.  Your spirit is far younger than your years, so you’re already ahead of the game!  Here’s to continuing friendship, brought to us by the good ol’ internet!  How fortunate are we?!! 🙂

  11. Carolyn says:

    I’m also a tranplanted American – I’ve lived in Glasgow for 40 yrs this coming May! My sister in Northern California sent  me your Thansgiving post. I haven’t had a Thanksgiving turkey for a long time, though we used to eat them at Christmas before my husband turned vegetarian (piscaterian actually – he eats fish). Anyhow, he made a good fish-based dinner for me for Thanksgiving yesterday, with bubbly too, very good.

    • Deb says:

      Well hi there, fellow ex-pat!  I’m glad you had a lovely Thanksgiving meal cooked for you yesterday as well – bubbly’s always a nice addition!

  12. Ginny says:

    Oh, Deb, how nice that you have friends over the Net.  I do, too.  Many gained from starting Chuck’s Hats for Chemo after my husband passed away.

    One time I had been making hats for about a week, and interspersed my break-away time from sewing, I had many conversations.  Then, it dawned on me as a surprise, other than my cats and dog, I had not spoken to anyone in person for about a week.  Yet, at the same time, I had so many good conversations, including a very distant cousin in Maine that I had met via the Net.  I do miss our daily writings as she passed away a few years ago, but ‘talked’ with my UA (unofficially adopted) daughter every day for years.

    Needless to say, I found one doesn’t have to be lonely or bored, if they have friends, even if they are merely (!) cyber friends, whom one has never seen in person. From the Net, I have many UA children and families.  How great life can be, if we chose or the Net chooses for us people who are worth knowing, no matter how we meet.

     
    Nice to know you Deb.  And, a belated Thanksgiving!

    • Deb says:

      You said it so well, Ginny!  I’m glad you have many good internet friends and UA children, that’s so lovely.  I have found that I’m more “involved” in my interent friends’ lives than I am with the “real-world” friends I left behind in the US.  I’m not sure why that is, but people I’ve met online seem to make the time for online communication in a way that my pals back home do not.  Whatever the reason, I am grateful for so many friends, both old and new.  Getting to know you and other ANC friends here has been grand, over the last year-and-a-bit!

      A belated happy Thanksgiving to you, too 🙂

  13. AJ says:

    I had to laugh a little when you talk about your husband having Thanksgiving for you. My daughter married a Brit and they lived in London their first two years. He made a Thanksgiving dinner for them but she is always the pie baker and her story of trying to find pumpkin in the UK made us all laugh. In the end she used sweet potatoes which we all know tastes exactly like pumpkin if it is spiced right. Thank you for reminding us that friendship is one of the most precious treasures of all and can cross all boundaries. Love reading your contributions. Thank you.

    • Deb says:

      There is a sad lack of pumpkin pie here, it’s true!  I’m glad your daughter could improvise with sweet potatoes 🙂  Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, and I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

  14. Deb, I’m so grateful Barbara and Matt told me about you, and you agreed to our invitation to write on A News Cafe.com. You’re my favorite person in Scotland, and so glad we’re friends. Thank you!

  15. A. Jacoby says:

    A rare and special sharing way beyond what one would guess were they not a party to our community! Thank you, Doni, for being mayor (ad sometimes poice chief) of this community.  And Deb, thank you for living next door.

     

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