Wednesday 1st November 2017

I've been reading Lucy Worsley's biography about Jane Austen (Lucy is a UK historian & TV presenter). At the same time I'm reading Northanger Abbey and I'm watching Sense and Sensibility. I've never read Jane Austen before and I must admit there are sentences I'm re-reading several times in order to 'get it'. But I'm going to persevere because I want to get to know this author; my curiosity about her has been aroused thanks to Lucy's book. One thing that intrigues me is that Jane appears to me to be very much influenced in her writing and in her relationships by her sense of 'house'. Where she lives matters a lot to her (as it probably does to most of us).

Having lived apart from my family for so many years, 'home' began to mean different things to me. There was the 'home' of my parents, which was a place I always felt welcomed. And then there was my home, which upon reflection, has always been a kind of sanctuary—a place to dream, create, think, relax.

It is quite natural for me to give more thought to what 'home' means during the holiday period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. After I left home at 18, I was seldom able to go back east to my parent's, and so had to make the best of it where I was. My first Thanksgiving away from my parents (my home was now in Florida) my roommate and I hosted a dinner. We had a tiny oven in which we cooked 12 Swanson frozen turkey dinners one at a time, with our guests eating in shifts. When I moved to Minneapolis and was working for the telephone company as an operator (just like in the photo when I first began), I used to volunteer to work double shifts so my work-mates could be with their families. I used to actually enjoy it, and had a good laugh out of people phoning up us operators and asking how long it took to cook a turkey! Seriously?

I had many 'crazy' Thanksgivings, in lots of homes, but the one thing I always did was to give thanks that I even had a home, a place that was safe and warm—this is one thing I have never taken lightly. I have always felt an immense sadness for people who don't have a home, whether due to war, fires, floods, hurricanes, loss of job or family... I have always been hugely thankful I do have a home. This year my husband and I are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my step-children and grandchildren. I've warned them it will not be an English roast dinner, but 100% American- right down to the green bean casserole, Jello salad, and pumpkin pie.

And once again I am grateful I have a home in which to offer this meal.