Being Thankful

Thanksgiving was traditionally a harvest festival and most people in the US celebrate it by spending time with relatives. As I play no role in food production (although I’m pretty good at the consumption part) and my family are over 3000 miles away what could it possibly mean to me apart from a nice day off? Like many people I have my ups and downs mentally and sometimes it’s easier to complain about what’s going wrong than celebrate the good parts. I’ve decided to use the holiday to reflect on the good things in my life and why I should be thankful for them.

The last few weeks have been a lot of fun almost without me realising it at the time. I managed to see Johnny Marr (formerly of the Smiths) live in Boston last week and he was amazing. On Saturday my wife and I went ice skating outdoors on the first day of the season at Boston Common and had a lot of fun. Although my skating style would best be described as “constipated penguin” I managed to skate for an hour without injuring myself or anyone else which has to be regarded as a major success. I also got to watch my wife be tripped up by an eight year old and fall over; this was definitely not the highlight of her trip. We’ve also had some really great days out together, my favourite so far being a drive up to New Hampshire.

Look I'm not on my ass!
Look I’m not on my ass!

Lately I’ve found myself becoming more comfortable about being in the US. When I first arrived I was finding it hard to adjust and almost avoiding social situations. In the past few weeks I’ve been to a house party and also hung out with some of Kat’s friends and it’s been really fun. I’m also enjoying work at the moment and getting on well with my co-workers and being a hermit forever seems less attractive by the day. That is until it gets really cold and I refuse to get out of bed until its spring! With every day that passes I realise how lucky I’ve been to have Kat’s support as I get used to living in the US. She has been amazing and having her as a wife is what I am thankful for more than anything.

We've had some really nice days out.
We’ve had some really nice days out.

So I guess that Thanksgiving does have a point for me, it has helped me to realise that although I’ve had a lot of changes in my life lately, I have a lot to be grateful for and that can only be good for my mental health. I would recommend other people try this approach, even if like me you are not American and more of a pessimist than an optimist at times! Thanksgiving is not a part of my tradition but I’m prepared to embrace it, happy in the knowledge that it involves spending time with Kat’s family and no doubt eating some great food. I’m excited for my first one and I’ll be sure to share how it goes!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, what are you thankful for this year?

Its Too Early For Snow and Santa!

It’s that time of year when autumn seems to slide inexorably into the depths of winter. The maple tree outside our kitchen is slowly becoming less yellow and more painfully skeletal by the day and the clocks going back mean its dark by the time I finish work. This wintry feeling was reinforced last week by the first snowfall of the season and by my first sighting of a mall Santa. The snow lasted about four hours before petering out; Santa will last until Christmas, if he doesn’t get drunk and attack people. Yes Miracle on 34th Street featuring the hugely missed Richard Attenborough is among my favourite Christmas films. This mall Santa looked pretty bored; as well he should because it’s over 6 bloody weeks until Christmas!

Lonely looking mall Santa; on November 2nd!
Lonely looking mall Santa; on November 2nd!

I’ve enjoyed my first autumn in the US and if there are a lot of things that I’ve missed about the UK then there are some new discoveries that make up for them, cider doughnuts being one of the best. The weather is a lot drier here too which makes for less of those miserable days when the leaves on the ground coalesce into sodden lumps. Autumn in New England is more colourful than its counterpart in the UK, mainly because New England is so much more forested. The region is rightly famous for its foliage, it’s hard to describe how beautiful the reds and yellows and greens are when outlined against a blue sky on a sunny day. If I could just encourage the locals to tone down Halloween and adopt Bonfire Night then we really would be all set, as an American would say.

There are some amazing autumn colours in New England
There are some amazing autumn colours in New England

I’m a little nervous about the impending winter doom because I’m used to mild British winters and little snow. When it snowed on Sunday I texted a Canadian friend with a picture saying it was snowing heavily and it’s safe to say she wasn’t impressed with my definition of heavily. Next year she’s moving to Florida so she’ll soon be able to tell me I don’t know what real heat is either! I’m looking forward to playing in snow but I see a lot of slipping over on icy streets and falling into snowbanks in my future. I’m actually really excited about ice skating outside on the Frog Pond in Boston Common just not so much on frozen puddles. I’m sure Bostonians will get used to seeing a blue faced Englishman walking around the city wearing 86 layers and looking like the Michelin man. If it’s already slowing in November it’s going to be a long winter for me!

This weekend saw another first for me; my first cream tea in the USA. For those who don’t know, cream teas consist of clotted cream and jam spread on scones accompanied by a pot of tea. My sister in law had kindly given us a gift card for the upmarket Langham Hotel in Boston and we decided to try their afternoon tea. Cream teas are a big thing for me; I am from Devon in the UK where cream teas are a speciality and even putting the cream and jam on the wrong way round is considered a faux pas! The cream tea passed my test; the scones were warm and the cream and jam tasty and we had sixteen different types of tea to choose from! They even referred to the cream as Devonshire cream but as the food wasn’t served by a waitress who called everyone “my lover” I’m dubious. Have a nice Sunday everyone, I’m off to invest in another sweater. Or five…