I sat down to a Thanksgiving meal last night for the first time - one of the definite perks of being married to an American. This wasn't a homely affair however - Mrs G works with American students and had organised a bash for 120 of them plus various VIPs, which went down absolutely fantastically and she's definitely flavour of the month with her bosses. Once again I have a reminder of just what a lucky guy I am
Thanksgiving is a festival which I can totally relate to - huge quantities of traditional foods to celebrate victory over some sort of oppression is a very familar theme for any Jew and here we're not required to spend hours in shul listening to a megilla, saying Hallel and Mussaf etc before we get down to the important thing!
The traditional turkey, accompanied by stuffing and sweet potatos and supplemented by wonderfully rare roast beef and various vergetable dishes certainly met with my approval and those of the students for whom the party was intended, most of whom presumably live on pasta and cans of tuna. They also appreciated the (fairly dire) wine and seeing many leaving with bottle shaped bulges on their persons at the end of the evening took me back a few years to my days as a student!
Entertainment was provided by Yisrael Campbell - a well known local Anglo comic who appears frequently at venues around Jerusalem - he had the crowd in fits with his well observed comedy which also has a serious side to it - highly worth seeing if you get the chance and I was really pleased to be able to have a good chat with him and his delightful wife - he's not just damned funny, he's also a real mensch. Go see his show!!!
I'm told that I missed out on one of the most important Thanksgiving traditions - picking the carcass and making turkey soup, sandwiches, salad etc.... Having married into a family of American meat lovers, I'll just have to look forward to doing that next year instead - think I'll give a miss to drinking watery American beer in front of American football though!
The idea of giving thanks is something that is so basic that sometimes we forget to do it. Often we lost track of the fact that we should be grateful when the glass is half full rather than bitching about it being half empty. In the army there is a concept of "Ein Toda BeTzava" - "there is no such thing as thank you in the army" - basically if someone does something it's because that's there job and you shouldn't thank someone for doing something that they are meant to be doing in any case. It's a concept that I hate and is thoroughly un-Jewish in its nature. The idea of Hakarat Hatov - of giving thanks is too often ignored. Take time out to think about all the good things in life, about people who have helped you - and give a little thanks.