We gathered together

When I was young, my dad periodically oversaw some international university students and we sometimes invited them to our house for dinner. One year we invited a man from Africa to join us for Thanksgiving dinner, along with our friend Aldena, an older woman (and quite a character) in our neighborhood who often joined us for holidays.  

Midway through the dinner, Aldena politely asked the man, "So what do you eat for Thanksgiving in Africa?"

The man paused for a moment and then replied, "Well, we don't have Thanksgiving there."  

"You don't?  Oh, my.  Really?  I can't imagine." Aldena was aghast and very disappointed in the continent of Africa and their apparent unthankfulness.

All of this is just to say: of course Australia doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, the holiday marking that feast when the indians graciously gathered with and welcomed the newly arrived pilgrims to the American continent. It's just a regular old work and school day here...but that didn't mean we were going to ignore one of our favorite days of the year.  So we pulled the kids out of school for the day, went to a movie matinee in the morning (Skyfall, which opened yesterday here), came home and made lemon meringue pies and stuffing, and then joined friends at their house for a gathering of expats and Australians. It was a terrific Thanksgiving feast with all of the traditional fixings. (Which was no small feat, really. It's harder to find turkey here. Or shortening. And canned pumpkin is non-existent.)

See the guy in the red ^? He is my second cousin, Craig. I'd never met him but I knew from his last name that we were probably related and sure enough, his dad Chuck is my mom's cousin so our grandmothers are sisters. He's doing an post-grad internship with Major League Baseball here in Canberra. (Maddy works for him there.) We were happy to have a family connection here. Such a small world.

Also? Kathleen, the dark-haired woman at the head of the table looking right at the camera, is a long-lost cousin on that same branch of the family tree (we just figured this out a couple of weeks ago). She is my mom's second cousin; her grandfather was my mom's grandfather's brother, both Brockbanks. So here we three are, halfway around the world in the same city, in the same ward, at the same time, from the same family tree. Lovely!

This year we're the new arrivals on a new continent. There's so much to be thankful for, especially for close and faraway family and friends. Love to you all. And Happy Thankgiving!