"A non nation-based national holiday celebration is the best holiday celebration of all." Not only should this become an alternative tongue-twister to those too impossibly tongue-twisting to repeat but, simply put, a mantra for happiness.
Thanksgiving outside the United States is Christmas to the power of ten. The air is cold, the colours are russet, daylight fades at 4 pm and the aroma of mulled wine beckons. And best of all we remain assault-free of Yuletide commerce, of manic racing to secure the best of a dead turkey's organic lineage and of urban fields of traffic with female quarterbacks wrestling to victory in their 4 x 4"s. And free also of presents, in-laws and general narking from assorted family members with undying vying for their version of uncle Horatio's pea and peanut puree. No more refereeing and threatened ruination of what is a serious effort to make a holiday enjoyable.
Thanksgiving as a non-nation based national holiday celebration liberates us too from idealising mom's culinary supremacy over every root vegetable under the earth's crust. It seems that the more time-consuming the preparations, the greater the expectation that everyone will appreciate them, as moments of tenderness bristle with pique. If a spray could be invented to dispel ambient tension the air would be thick with it and new clouds of greenhouse gases would further alarm our new non-tension status. So like the wagging dog eternally hopeful that a hug and a bone will come its way, human hope springs eternal that everyone will get on, and pre-emptive days of penance ensue as we peel, chop, bake, stir, roll, and mush until raw fingers tremble with weakness and with an older sister who still doesn't lift one of hers.
Perhaps it's the need to emulate the hard work of chasing a scrawny turkey all those years ago that makes it necessary to slog like a pilgrim. Not sure our forebears would have had the fortitude to put up with today's domestic strains without the numbing relief of television.
But no such martyrdom, or television, over Thanksgiving outside America. A gripe-free and light-shouldered crowd of acquaintances gratefully relish the moment of coming together, sharing the joys of being family-loving without family, a nationality without its nation, and cooks of normal portions with a sprinkling of shop-enhanced dishes. And a non nation-based national celebration means that life continues the next day, going to work with a spring of bonhomie in our step, still the same weight as we were yesterday. And we return to our homes, free of fatty fetidness from a demised bird carcass providing sandwich filling for the next three days when nation-based tired family members finally abandon three days of holiday in wake-like appropriateness, and jump into cars and planes and head back to alternative lives that they have chosen to live, for the reasons they have just endured.
So for those outside those boundaries of state and country, let's stick to the mantra: A non nation-based national holiday celebration is the best holiday celebration of all.
Happy Thanksgiving from London.