But where can I buy all the pretty???

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Thursday 24 November 2016

What are You Grateful For?

My friends and family in America will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week. There will be no feasting in my house as Thursdays are a busy day here, but I always welcome an opportunity to practice gratitude.

Many British friends have asked me about the origins of Thanksgiving. It's a holiday which is now steeped in controversy, and rightly so, especially when so many Native Americans are suffering this year. But it's also a holiday that I find difficult to totally discount. However hypocritical we may be, a holiday that celebrates gratitude, friendship and community seems a worthwhile one. Personally I'd prefer it to be kept, but rebranded with a less spurious origins story.

According to American tradition, the original Thanksgiving was a feast that took place when the first wave of settlers to the New World celebrated their autumn harvest. The story goes that the local Native American tribes had helped teach them which plants would grow, the best ways to fertilise, and how to preserve foods. So when it became apparent that the settlers had successfully grown sufficient food to last them through their first harsh North American winter, they invited the locals around for a huge celebratory feast. It's a rose-tinted view to be sure, and one that conveniently ignores all the later atrocities committed against these tribes and others - the legacy of which is still, sadly, very much alive in the US today.

But I can't help it, I love Thanksgiving. For one thing, it's all about the food which always seems like the best place to start a holiday. No gifts are exchanged (though I have been known to tell British visitors otherwise out of pure mischief), decorations are minimal, everything closes, and it's usually a very low key day spent with loved ones. A proper holiday, in other words, that defies too much commercialisation and keeps the focus pleasantly traditional.

It's also, of course, an excellent excuse for reflecting on the past year and counting our blessings. I thought I'd share a few of mine with you.

*I'm thankful to live in such a beautiful place
*I'm thankful for my faithful, funny little cat
*I'm thankful to have spent so much time this year close to nature
*I'm thankful for old friends I've reconnected with and new ones I am still getting to know
*I'm thankful for my creative impulses and ability to express myself
*I'm thankful that my mother is in good health and for our close relationship
*I'm thankful for all the people in my life and beyond who are trying to make things better, both on a small, personal scale and in the broader world
*Sadly, I'm thankful not to live in America at the moment (sorry, guys! I do feel for you though)
*I'm thankful that I have the freedom to choose how I live
*I'm thankful for the people I love, and the people who love me in return
*I'm thankful for my curiosity which means I am always learning, always inspired, and never bored
*I'm thankful I was able to go abroad this year
*I'm thankful for all the privileges I've been given, and which I know I've done nothing to deserve
*I'm thankful for my health, which has improved this year

What are you thankful for in 2016? It's been a trying year but look close enough and you'll hopefully be able to find something!

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