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  • jdettmann


It’s the day after Thanksgiving where I am. Australians don’t typically celebrate Thanksgiving, but I’m half American so in my family it has always been a time when we gather together with the old friends of my mother who befriended her when she stepped off the Mayflower in Sydney as a very young woman. These were the people who showed her which plants she could safely eat, which berries were poisonous and which birds were worth killing and roasting.

For forty-odd years several dozen of these people, with occasional additions for worthy new friends and subtractions for bad behaviour and death, have gathered in my parents’ house and feasted on the same meal: a soup (a different variety each year), roast turkey stuffed with bread, apples, sage, celery, pecans, lemon and butter, mashed sweet potatoes, potatoes au gratin, green beans with almonds, and A-grade gravy, followed by pumpkin pie and cream. Until the 1990s the cream was whipped pouring cream, but with the advent of King Island cream, which is thick and dollopy and known by my father as ‘diet cream’ – ‘because it’s 42% fat-free’ – that became our accompaniment of choice.

For various reasons, last night we had just seven people at our Thanksgiving dinner. Not because of a terrible outbreak of bad behaviour or death among our friends, but because this year we needed an easier evening. My brother SuperChief made the dinner, I made the pie (as I always do) and we had one non-family guest. It’s always important to have a non-related guest, as their presence ups the standard of manners and conversation immeasurably.

It was a splendid evening. The guest presented May Blossom with two helium balloons – one shaped like a zebra and one like a leopard. That, plus her introduction to turkey, made for one very happy little person. I missed seeing all our old friends, but this made a really nice change.

So I’m feeling thankful today. At the risk of making you vomit (and I can’t guarantee vomit will be as easy to clean out of your keyboard as red wine is), I’m going to list a few of the things that I am particularly grateful for, in no particular order.

My child, who is so funny and clever and lovely. Sure, she’s shouty and headstrong and talks a lot and won’t always accept help when she needs it (she clearly gets all that from H’s side), but I wouldn’t have her any different. She eats with a fork, and kisses every cat she meets. She’s just about the best thing ever.

My family. I can’t even begin to express how much help and love they provide to my little immediate family every single day. By ‘help’ and ‘love’ I obviously mean ‘breakfast’ and ‘free babysitting’.

My friends, and the magical electric net system that lets me stay in touch with them when I don’t have the time or energy for phone calls, visits and letters.

The Australian health care system. Seriously, this is the business. Our family has used more than its fair share of medical resources this year, and the care they have received is amazing. The people who work in health care never fail to inspire and impress me.

H. Have you ever seen that list that gets reprinted in magazines every year or so of the most stressful life events? Basically that list has been H’s life over the past couple of years. How he has not imploded is beyond me, but he continues to work to support his family, he adores his daughter and he loves me. Full marks, H, full marks.

Internet shopping. The number of visits to shopping centres that online shopping has saved me in the past year is astonishing and wonderful. Each time I don’t have to battle a multi-storey carpark or the city crowds, overheat myself and my miserable child, all in order to buy a string bag to keep bath toys in or something equally piddly but essential, it adds another six months to my life, I’m sure of it.

Are you thankful for anything special this year?

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