I sat in my office last night as the time approached 7 pm, not sure if I had the energy to venture out to another town for the expat Thanksgiving gathering. Fortunately I had arranged to cab-share with another American colleague, and so although we were both stuck working late (and in the end arrived at the dinner almost an hour later than planned) we did manage to drag ourselves there. We had a small (7) gathering of Americans and a few other non-Brits gathered around a table. It was Chinese takeout that ended up being the dinner, preceded by some lovely cheese and crackers and all accompanied by nice wine. I ate way too much (nothing unusual for Thanksgiving there!) and had to reject the offers of an apple tart with ice cream for dessert. In the end, I was so glad to have gone, had a great time, and felt as though we definitely captured the spirit of the day. Home late and to bed, and up again this morning to work instead of to hang ornaments on a tree–what I would most certainly be doing in the states. The thing about Thanksgiving in a foreign country is that the meal is in the evening instead of afternoon, there is no Cowboys or Lions game on the telly, and certainly there’s not the chance for a massive lie-in the following day.
My Thanksgiving fortune cookie (what? you didn’t have one?) had an interesting message.
How to succeed? Try hard enough.
It could just be the poor grammar that sometimes is found in fortune cookies, or it could be that the message is trying to tell me something. “Try hard enough” implies “but not too hard” for my read of it–I’ve certainly had a tendency to suffer burn-out at my job here when I’m trying to do too much. At the moment I’ve been juggling trying to finish a book I’m editing with everything else, and it’s been clear that I am not superhuman and I can’t actually work non-stop. I need to learn to “try hard enough” by not taking on so much in the first place–my bad tendency is to only notice it when it’s too late, when I’m overloaded and I implode. I’m learning and I’ll be working on this as we head towards 2009. Work should never be so hard that you consider skipping Thanksgiving dinner with the best friends you’ve got in a foreign land.