This Side of the Pond – Nov. 26

By Sarah Pridgeon

Five years ago, Thanksgiving meant very little to me. I had heard of it, of course, but had never participated. Fast forward to today and an abstract concept has become almost as important a part of my life as it is of yours – and not just because I really enjoy mashed potatoes.

I have had time to acclimatize to this new red letter day on my calendar and truly embrace what it’s meant to be all about. Now, I feel ready to seize this opportunity and reflect on what I myself am thankful for in this little slice of life I call my own.

I am thankful for my husband, who puts up with constantly needing to explain me to strangers and never complains when I make him do the dishes. I found my soulmate an ocean away and I am grateful every single day for the coincidence that brought us together.

Even the days when he forgets to do the dishes.

I am thankful for the little family that co-exists under our roof: two dogs, two cats, two human beings. Each of my housemates with their own distinct personality and all of them eager to welcome me home at the end of a long day.

Even when you know that at least one of them is likely to make a mess or destroy something before the light of morning breaks, there are few things in life quite so heartwarming as knowing that your arrival is the high point of somebody’s day.

Except in the case of the indoor cat, of course. She’s fine with you coming home whenever you like, it’s completely up to you, just do make sure the food bowl is full on the way past, there’s a dear.

I am thankful for my extended family here in Wyoming, all of whom have accepted me into the fold as though I’d been here all along. This despite the fact that some of them are far too nice to admit that they still can’t understand everything I say.

But then, as my husband can’t either, that’s really not surprising.

I’m thankful for the family I left behind in England. I miss them every day, of course, but, despite my decision to up sticks and disappear halfway across a planet, they support me unfailingly in whatever I do and I can always count on them to be proud of me.

It’s also nice to know that proximity isn’t everything. Distance has done nothing to reduce that curious parental ability to know instantly if I am in need of chastising. I don’t know how they always know, but I still can’t get away with staying up too late or forgetting to brush my teeth.

I am thankful for the small humans in my life: my two nieces, one English and one American, both of them destined for great things, and the precocious little gentleman who belongs to one of our cousins and is an absolute delight to spend time with, especially when he’s schooling me on which of the Ninja Turtles is which.

I am thankful for my friends, old and new. Some of them willing to lead me by the hand through this exciting American life, others more concerned with reminding me that my old home is still worth a visit from time to time.

Even the ones who tut at me because I now use American grammar.

I am thankful for the work I’ve been called to do and the opportunity it brings to contribute something useful to my new community. I came to this rural life with very few skills to speak of – just the one I’m using right this moment, to be honest.

I can’t build a house and I can’t herd a cow, nor will I ever be particularly good at gardening. But thanks to the work I do, I can still feel as though I’m being of use to the people around me.

This is something I will make sure to remind myself of the next time I’m six miles down an unfamiliar gravel road, swiveling my head to find the thing I’m meant to be photographing, and I can’t remember which way is back.

I am thankful for my cozy, comfortable home, a place full of light and warmth to return to when all my chores are complete. A place to be snug and relaxed, even when the snow is coming down hard.

Even the bits of it that keep getting dusty overnight and the corners that are perpetually filled with clouds of cat hair.

And finally, dear reader, I am grateful for you – yes, you, reading this column. Whether this is the first time your eyes have wandered across my words or you’ve been keeping up with my misadventures for the last few years, thank you for accompanying me this far.

Thank you for allowing me to pester you with my ignorance and share with you the joys of comparing two cultures. Thank you if you’ve ever crossed paths with me out there in the wilderness and taken a moment to share your thoughts on the things I have said.

And thank you for sharing Thanksgiving with me this year, it’s been a pleasure. May your year ahead be blessed with endless joys to feel grateful for.