Having just returned from the USA, and the wonders of “home” and family there, I remain amazed by the emotions it has stirred up in me. It has been almost four years since my last trip back, and that was to be there for my father’s passing. What a blessing to have been present at the end and to have experienced his profound strength and courage. Hearing him say “I love you” for the last time remains an indelible and, of course, fortifying memory.
I put home in quotes because Oxford is my hometown today; yet going “home” to the USA always moves me in a way I cannot explain. Perhaps it is because it inevitably makes me think about going back for good, or else ponder how I came to live in my adopted country England for so long without ever having planned it. In fact, once upon a time, while taking a summer program at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, I swore despite having had a great experience there that I would never, ever live in England. Back then I couldn’t wait to get back to the USA, to blue skies and sunshine. Saying goodbye to rain, cold and damp was not a problem for me.
Today things are different. Often when I am in overly hot countries, with blindingly brilliant sunshine, I long for a bout of soft rain, grey light and a November morning mist rising off the lawn in my own Oxfordshire front garden. In other words, I ache for England. Usually November here is a quiet month with temperatures not too high and not too low, despite the odd exception. A British November is rainy, one of the wettest months of the year, and it’s true what they say—“all that rain makes all that green.” November is in a sense the hushed prelude to the trumpet blast of Christmas, New Year’s and the long winter’s march into spring.
This month in the USA we celebrate Thanksgiving. It never slips by unnoticed by me because on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2003, I not only delighted in my son’s first birthday, but also legally became his mother. Thanksgiving of all days! Who wouldn’t be humbled by such a turn of events? At forty-eight, I became a first-time mom. Who wouldn’t brim over with gratitude? Who wouldn’t believe in God and his miracles? This is some of the joy I hope to capture in the book I’m currently writing, The Poetry of Life.
Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday of November. This year it will be November 22nd. Festive menus usually include a large roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. For vegetarians? Maybe nut roast with a soy and Worcestershire sauce. And of course a prayer. Originating as a Harvest Festival, the holiday is a chance to give thanks for life’s bounty.
Of course, I don’t need a national holiday to remind me how grateful I am to have “gotten in under the wire” when it comes to motherhood, but I do marvel every Thanksgiving Day that I was blessed with that bundle of joy—now of course a strapping young lad—against all odds, while his continuing presence in my life reminds me on a daily basis that dreams can come true.
With gratitude—Happy November, Happy Thanksgiving,