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Thursday, November 26, 2015

What Thanksgiving Means to This Immigrant...


As a naturalized American citizen, I wanted to explain what Thanksgiving means to me, but as I began to write, I wondered... surely I've already shared this story?

I researched through the last four Thanksgiving posts, and yep, there it was... (so, the post you find below was originally published 11.21.11. (with several updates.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours (and happy Thursday to everyone else:)



I wasn't born in America; I just got here as fast as I could.

(I know it’s a cheesy line, but it’s the holidays!)

For my first five Thanksgivings, ('96 to '00) I didn’t care about the holiday, so I volunteered to work at my restaurant, allowing other managers some quality time with their family.

Then, all of a sudden, I found myself working for a place that was closed for Thanksgiving.

And, I didn't know what to do with myself.

(I was new to California and had no friends or family close by.)

A running buddy of mine, also from Ireland, found out my situation while at a dinner party the night before Thanksgiving.

"Hang on a second," says Brian.

He grabs his phone, makes a quick call, and passes the phone to me.

"It's for you."


"Hello, Mark? Yes, this is Brian's mother, Pauline. Brian tells me you've nowhere to go for Thanksgiving?"

"No, ma'am..."

"Right you are, then. Dinner is served at 3 p.m., and just bring yourself."

"Your mother just hung up on me," I said to Brian, who was smiling like that Cheshire Cat.

"That's me ma."

Needless to say, I had an absolutely wonderful time at their house, where they made me feel like one of the family. And it was inside that small, loving home that I finally "got" the meaning of Thanksgiving.

My life has changed, but, I'll never forget that first Thanksgiving, and whenever I host in the future, I'll do my best to find a "homeless" friend and inviting them to join me. It doesn’t cost anything, and I believe in the principle of paying it forward.

(Footnote... a month after I first met Pauline and her family, she was back on the phone with me on Christmas Eve.)

I was getting ready to have a quiet Christmas alone. Pauline had other ideas...

No prizes for where I was at 3 p.m. Christmas Day!

What's your top memory of Thanksgiving, and if you could invite one extra person (living or deceased) to the table who would it be?

Maj. Richard "Dick" Winters

(My invitation would go to the late U.S. Army Major Dick Winters, former CO of Easy Company – of “Band of Brothers” fame.)




Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Nice message. To too many of us, Thanksgiving means football and over eating.

Jo said...

I would invite Mark Koopmans if I celebrated today. However, you will have to settle for October Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - lovely story and yes people are generous ... that's a lovely introduction to the land of dreams. I'm quite sure you're having a similar Thanksgiving with your family as you had then.

I'd ask my two grandfathers to dine with me - and tell me some history and social history of their lives ...

Cheers and Happy weekend - Hilary

Elephant's Child said...

Happy Thanksgiving.
I am so grateful for the many wonders which fill my world. Each and every day. Including the less than stellar ones.

Mark Koopmans said...

@Mac: It was a very sweet gesture by Brian and his mom, and I've obviously never forgotten it :)

@Jo: If I ever make to Canada around those times, you know I'm going to drop by - with some cheap boxed wine, probably:)

@Hilary: I love when the different generations of a family can come around the table to relax, reflect and give thanks in general:) Cheers and happy weekend to you:)

@EC: We're already a winner when we wake up breathing in the morning, that's what I say :)

Mark Means said...

Loved this and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Mark :)

klahanie said...

Hi alleged human, Mark,

My alleged human, Gary, didn't think anything about you was naturalised! :) No, I have got a clue what he means either.

What a nice story about your first Thanksgiving in America. You should of taken out citizenship in Canada as well. That way, you could celebrate Thanksgiving twice in two months.

A peaceful, pawsitive Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones, human or otherwise :)

Pawsitive wishes,


David Powers King said...

I remember this post! A very Happy Thanksgiving to you, sir. :)

S.P. Bowers said...

It's always a pleasure to hear your stories. Hope you're having a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Lucky us. The Koopster scurried here. It took a while, but he eventually felt comfortable enough to sport a hula skirt and coconut bra. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving weekend, Mark.

I'm looking forward to reading your book, too. Smiles.

Mark Koopmans said...

@Mark: Thanks, man... best wishes to you and yours, too :)

@Penny's Handler: You didn't know I was naturalized? Man, I may have to review the electoral rules for choosing the South American chapter El Presidente de los Koopie Groupies :)

@DPK: Likewise friend, and I bow down to your memory skills :)

@Sara: Thanks, and hope you and yours are having a fabhulous day, dahling :)

@Robyn: You're such a trouble maker !! I'm trying to distance myself from all mentions of me wearing a grass skirt and a coconut bra last summer...


dolorah said...

When my first hubs was in the Air Force we had an open invitation to the barracks rats of his units. Got some interesting company sometimes for dinner.

Mark Koopmans said...

@Donna: Nice tradition, too... but I'm sure it got interesting sometimes! "Barrack rats" Never heard that one before :)

klahanie said...

Hi human, Mark,

I think my silly human wasn't attempting some feeble joke in regards to you being naturalised. I think he meant there's nothing natural about you! :) I shall up Gary's medication!

Pawsitive wishes,

Penny :)

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