24 years ago I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in this country. I spent it at Denny’s. Yes, the place that claims to be “Always Open”! And it was indeed!
I had just arrived “fresh off the boat” a month prior and really had not the slightest idea about this holiday. The concept of turkey, stuffing and the Macy’s parade was still as foreign to me as Pumpkin Pie. In fact I was so oblivious that I did not even know this was a holiday until I woke up that Thursday morning and realized my host parents were not leaving for work. Instead they were seated in front of the TV watching huge balloons pulled by humongous floats through the streets of New York City. I could not imagine anything more boring!!!
We lived in Chester Springs at the time, a small enclave about 30 miles north west of Philadelphia. Not much else was going on that day, which was OK as were packing to go out of town for the long weekend. Although I found it a bit odd that we had to watch the entire spectacle of the parade first before we could actually leave for our drive up north to Marlboro, Massachusetts – another exciting place! But by this time I had already learned that things worked a bit differently in my new home and I did not question intentions any longer. With my parents we would have been packed, the car loaded and the sandwiches and snacks prepared the night before in order to be on the road at the crack of dawn. Not here. We watched the endless parade, then started packing, and finally got on the road late afternoon. We took the scenic route through New York City, still buzzing from all the parading and since it was dinner time before we even hit the Massachusetts state line I got to enjoy my first Thanksgiving dinner at Denny’s. And no, I did not order their “Thanksgiving Special”.
When we finally arrived at my host parents friends’ house in Marlboro it was way past late o’clock but it was then that I met Jacqui and Barry. Little did I know at the time that they would become friends for life! With countless Thanksgivings spent in each other’s company after we had all moved to California. If we had had a chance to look into the future back then on that cold Thanksgiving weekend in New England – when I was still wondering whether I had made a mistake coming to this country – what would we have done with that insight? Let’s just say that it is probably a good thing that we couldn’t get a glimpse of what lay ahead, even though it worked out very well for all of us. We are definitely different people from the ones that met on that snowy driveway 24 years ago, trials and tribulations for all of us, highs and lows, that thing called “life”, allowed us to evolve. Jacqui lives back in the UK now and Barry lives in Italy, Tuscany to be exact (I KNOW!), and we do not get to spend as much time with them as we used to and want to but our friendship has endured and remains strong to this day. A friendship both David and I are grateful for. They are family!!!
Since we moved to the desert our Thanksgiving always starts out with the annual Turkey Trot on El Paseo, where we meet up with old friends and catch up on the year that has passed us by. Usually we are blessed with lovely weather, sunny skies and warm temperatures. In fact we usually have the best weather in the nation this time of year and consider ourselves lucky when we see the weather map for the rest of the country.
So this week it is only fitting that I list the things I am thankful for this year and of years past:
- Jacqui and Barry!!!
- sunny skies
- a roof over our heads
- the fact Nelson is still with us and doing well
- my health
- David’s health
- clean sheets to sleep in every night
- a solid marriage
- President Obama
- having a meal every night
- my friends who are neighbors
- Facebook connections
- memories of good times
- that my friend might be coming home soon!!!
- being able to start each day with a run
- my iPhone (shallow? I don’t care!)
- the morning ritual of drinking herbal tea
- a fridge filled with food
- the fact that there will be another Mullen in this world
- my Welsh relatives
- friends on Twitter that I have yet to meet
- desert summers
- being able to call myself a citizen of this great country
Today’s Running Tip: Run a local Turkey Trot!
If there is a Turkey Trot scheduled in your neck of the woods be sure to sign up and run it. Turkey Trots are usually 5-K races, easy to prepare for and great fun to get out in your community and meet up with other local runners. Not to mention the added benefit of burning some calories before sitting down for the Thanksgiving Feast!