It's Thanksgiving, one of the big American holidays our family has adopted since we moved Stateside. Families all over the country, hop on a plane or do the traditional road-trip to go eat turkey and Pumpkin Pie with their rellies.
We have no rellies here, so we gather with our adoptive families - other local Brits - and split a big bird. The kids have spent the week doing all sorts of Thanksgiving activities and projects at school. The annual Cheeky or Monkey hand print decorated as a turkey comes home and is proudly displayed. Always endorsed with what they are thankful for.
This year, Cheeky's read:
"I am thankful for pizza, my friends, my toys, ice cream. And my family."
We had to laugh. Talk about priorities!
But, it made me think, what am I thankful for? Here's my Top Ten:
1. Him Downstairs. Despite me being a whinging old grot-bags so much of the time, he's still there to give me a hug and the end of the night. Sometimes, I don't deserve him. Sometimes, he doesn't deserve me. His armour doesn't shine, but he's still my Knight.
2. Cheeky and Monkey. They are the love of my life and the challenge of my day.
3. Wine. More specifically, Merlot. (Any brand'll do. I'm classy that way.) My Mare-LOOW. Without it, numbers one and two would be a darn sight harder to cope with and I'd be a fully-paid up member of the Pi**ed Off Parents Club.
4. Chocolate. Chocolate cake. Chocolate bars. (Green & Blacks, Dairy Milk. DefinitelyNot Hershey's. The horror!) Hot chocolate. Chocolate ice cream. Chocolate sauce. Chocolate butter cream icing. Even my favourite throw, to get cosy under is, chocolate coloured. I am an addict and no, I have no intention of getting any therapy.
5. BBC America. Without it, my Televisual recreations would be an overload of over-produced, high gloss, so-called dramas with excess car-chases, guns, and stick-thin women. This doesn't stop me watching them of course. My DVR is full of shows such as Glee, Desperate Housewives, Bones, Brothers & Sisters, The Hills and The City . But not missing out on a touch of fabulous British TV like Mary Queen of Shops, Top Gear, Mistresses, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, Don't Tell The Bride, How Clean Is Your House and Graham Norton, gives us a slice of home and reminds us just how bl**dy good the Brits are at making TV. (Recently we watched ITV's Doc Martin series 1-3 on DVD back to back. Left me and Him Downstairs yearning for the UK and the chance to take the boys crab fishing at the seaside...)
5. My friends. I don't want to go all Gorgonzola here, but my friends maketh me. The initial strong hold on many UK chums that I had when we first moved here has waned. In some cases this makes me sad, but it is nevertheless, inevitable and understandable. I am thankful that Facebook enables us to keep in contact, but sad that my phone rarely rings with a voice from England on the other end. I try. I phone. But I slack sometimes too. The time difference and the general business of raising one's family does make it hard to have a long chat, so thank gawd I have made some incredible girlfriends in the US. Without these strong, inspiring women in my day-to-day life, I'd be an even grumpier cow!
6. Lululemon athletica yoga pants. http://www.lululemon.com/ After getting majorly fed-up of wearing jeans all the time, my friend introduced me to Lululemon and well, my life hasn't been the same since. Never before has my chocolate inflated derriere looked so toned. And to think, I didn't even have to step inside the gym!
7. Tea. I used to be a PGTips only kinda girl, but moving away from home and not be willing to try alternatives abroad, would have left me gasping for a cuppa. Yes, the day I discovered my nectar of choice in the British section of the supermarket, I practically wept with joy. (Cue the usual strange looks from the locals, because I dared to express my true feelings in public) But tea and the right blend of English Breakfast, is the thing that gets the blood pumping round my veins. I buy it in bulk whenever I go back to England, and when I run out, well, there are other more available brands that I also really enjoy popping in my teapot.
8. Bed socks. I live in Michigan, North America. We get an average of 30-150 inches of snow between November and March. Failing to have thick cosy socks in your drawer is really not an option. I do take them off for sex. Sometimes. In England they'd have been a passion killer. Over here, Him Downstairs is trying to get inside them too.
9. Yola. OMG I have a new BF! She's come into my life very recently and has shaken the dust off and turned my home into a sparkling palace. Yes, after cleaning my own house ever since I left home nearly 18 years ago, I have finally readjusted the family budget to allow Yola into our lives. We couldn't possibly afford to have her every week, but once a month is enough for me. Her idea of clean house is waaay more thorough than mine. This week, I came home to find her washing down the dining room blinds. Something I've been meaning to do for three years. I think I am in love!
10. The 99 cents shirt. I hope you don't think I am a lazy housewife, but I've never been a fan of the iron. Think this has something to do with the fact that one of my part-time jobs during University was to iron for a local family. Daddy was something 'important' in the city and had very specific requests where starch was concerned. Mummy was an astrophysicist and had a fondness for pleated skirts and tea-party collared blouses. Children, one, two and three went to a very posh private school where the uniform trousers had to have a crease down the front and the skirts were kilt style. I hated ironing those flipping skirts.
The one plus of this job was that at least they had a fancy ironing board with a seat, so I could sit and watch TV while tried to avoid burning their clothes. I worked for them twice a week for two years. I came to have a love-hate relationship with the job; I loved the family, but I hated the ironing. So, when Him Downstairs and I began co-habitating I made it clear that he shouldn't expect me to iron anything. Especially shirts. And bless him, seven years on, he knows I wasn't joking. Until about a month ago, he was regularly heard swearing when, just as he was climbing into bed, he realised he hadn't got any ironed work clothes. Then, up he'd get up and crash and bang about downstairs with the ironing board.
I was starting to feel a teeny-weensy bit sorry for him, when I discovered that I could get his shirts laundered and ironed for less than $1 at a local cleaners. Result! It's not even worth switching on the iron for that price. So now, my Prince has a closet full of beautifully ironed and starched shirts and I feel less of a rubbish wife.