TBT: Thanksgiving 2015 and a 2016 Update

Greetings, gentle readers, and a very Happy Thanksgiving to all. I’m reposting last year’s Thanksgiving entry below, as I thought it would be interesting to revisit where we were last year and, also, to post some thoughts about what makes me thankful.

This year, we’re home in New York. We live literally at the staging area for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Our street was closed off last night with all kinds of activity; in fact, I think that some of the high school bands were sleeping in buses just outside of our building. We heard them warming up this morning, just before they turned the corner onto Central Park West to join the parade. I guess it’s a big deal.

When we’re in town on T-Day, I do the cooking, soup to nuts (although we serve neither soup nor nuts.) We have a wonderful extended family who, year after year, join us to celebrate. I have this thing covered and am very organized, thanks to my handy spreadsheet which tells me what to do. I don’t even have to think, just tick off the items one by one and – VOILA! – Thanksgiving!

Here’s our table set and ready for action:

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Thanksgiving

And here’s our bird, just before going into the oven:

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My 15⅓ pound beauty waiting to be roasted!

And here she is, post-oven:

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Just 2 hours, 40 minutes later!

Starting off the festivities with a chilled aperitif, I think:

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The holidays are a time to cherish and celebrate with good friends and family

Oh, and here’s what we had to eat:

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So, that’s what we did today. Just finished the dishes and putting our feet up and relaxing – turkey sandwiches, anyone?

And here’s my TBT blog from last year:

Greetings from sunny St. Maarten. And happy Thanksgiving to those of you who observe/celebrate it. AAC CPA and I went into town for all of 15 minutes to purchase some Belgian chocolates as a gift for our wonderful concierge, Jola. She has taken such good care of us. Then we got back on board as quickly as possible. The ship is fun today because most of the passengers are off exploring and we have the run of the place. Woo-hoo!

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A gorgeous St. Maarten beach

Our butler, Alex, has already been here to start setting up for our Thanksgiving feast, as we’re hosting our group chez nous. We’ll be 8 for dinner. Alex did a preliminary setup, and he’ll be back later to put the finishing touches together. We’ll start with cocktails and hors d’eauvres at 7:00, followed by the all the Thanksgivings fixings at 7:30, served buffet style, as I want everyone to have as much or as little of everything that they desire. Pumpkin pies for dessert, natch. I, of course, have already started my prep work and the turkey just went into the oven. (Truth or dare?)

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True or false: Is this me prepping the turkey?

So is Thanksgiving a day of reflection for you? Do you take stock and count your blessings? Or is it just another day where we all eat too much and pay for it on Friday?

For me, I tend to be overly-analytical about everything in life so today’s just another day to do more of the same.

However, in these dark and dangerous times, I think it’s a good idea to consider who and where I am at this point in my life. Am I measuring up? Do I have what it takes? Am I headed on the right path?

Here’s where it stands for me:

I have AAC CPA and we both have our health. That’s first and foremost. Added to that, we’re extremely fortunate to have the resources that allow us to live this lovely life (which, in turn, provides fodder for this blog) which we never ever take for granted. We have the added blessing of getting along famously with both of our families (I think that may be a rare thing), and a circle of friends, who keep us amused and on our toes. And, I think, there’s real affection there, too.

We have very good and dear friends in London – they know who they are – who just had a bit of a close shave in the London tube. Thankfully, they’re all right and nothing really terrible happened. But they wrote to tell us about it and to ask if we were having 2nd thoughts about our upcoming trip to London. (Yes, gentle readers, we’re somehow returning to London – our 3rd time this year!! More on that very soon.) I replied with no hesitation whatsoever that we wouldn’t dream of cancelling our trip. We love London and the thought of spending Christmas there is simply irresistible.

And herein is the real thing for which I’m most grateful today: AAC and I live in NYC and were there on that terrible day in September 2001. Then and there, we made a vow to each other that we would never put off anything that we wanted to do, whether it was to read that book, see that play, try that new restaurant, or get on a plane or ship and hit the road. In these uncertain times, we try not to live in fear but, rather, to live our lives fully and enjoy them to the best of our abilities.

I didn’t mean for this post to turn into any kind of sermon, so mea culpa if it came off that way. It’s just my way of saying how truly lucky and blessed we are.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

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Autumn – New York

Greetings from New York City on a lazy weekend afternoon. The last time you heard from me, we were aboard the beautiful Crystal Symphony sailing across the placid waters of the Atlantic from Lisbon back to the States. It was a glorious voyage: calm seas, warm weather, and a most congenial crowd. Perhaps, in another post, I’ll tell you more about the crossing and our adventures onboard.

In the meantime, it’s been a tumultuous 11 days for almost everyone. TheCulturedTraveler does not discuss politics – that is not the purpose of this blog – but I’d venture to say that, regardless of your political affiliation or interest, we Americans a charting a new course through unknown waters. There has been either lots of exhilaration or lots of hand-wringing (depending on your point of view), none of which is going to change the outcome of the election. 

As we all breathlessly await the next administration to take over the reins of government, I decided that it’s time for a diversion – one upon which, I hope, we can all agree: Today in New York was a sensationally perfect and beautiful autumnal day.

AAC CPA and I were out and about with purpose: we went into our backyard (a/k/a Central Park) to look at park benches. As AAC CPA believes that everyone should support the Central Park Conservancy in a way that is meaningful to them, so he believes that we can always do more to preserve the most beautiful part of New York City. So, he and I are considering the possibility of “adopting” a park bench. 

Did you know that there are more than 9,000 benches in the park and that over 4,100 of them have already been adopted? Of course, if we’re going follow through, it will have to be a bench that is close to where we live so that we can go and visit with ease. It turns out that there’s a section of the park that has recently been restored to its former glory and there are still a few benches that are available. That was the point of our mission today.

We found 3 prospective benches which seem to be available for adoption. They’re in an excellent location, so we’ll have to contact the Conservancy to see if can snag one. Stay tuned for further developments.

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AAC CPA scopes out a potential bench for adoption

As it was a perfect late autumn day, I thought you might enjoy seeing some photographs of the park. I think we’re at the height of fall foliage and the colors were spectacular.

See for yourselves:

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Central Park West on a beautiful fall day

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Central Park is all its autumnal glory

So, even if you’re in a funk about the world around you and feel nothing but despair and disappointment, I hope that the natural beauty of the park will, in some small way, make you feel a little better. 

And finally, consider this: With a little bit of luck (and lots of support for the Central Park Conservancy), these trees and this park will outlast not only the next administration but the many others that will succeed them.