Thanksgiving Day Bravery

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

Having just spent a great Thanksgiving in LA (despite the horrible traffic) I have returned re-motivated. Why? Because my friend Charysse gave me a much needed boost. In a recent work evaluation she had to list the ten people she would most want to have at a dinner party and I was one of the chosen. While this was nice and all – it was her reason for choosing me that caused a lump to form in my throat. She said she had told her boss it was because I was one of the bravest people she knew. Now I’m no courageous Clare that’s for sure – I’m terrified of heights, wimpy about woods (there’s bears out there you know) and squeamish about virtually everything – but I was, in my friend’s estimation, brave because I chose to ‘lay it all out there’ – abandoning my successful career in pursuit of a dream and risking all in the process. Her support brought tears to our eyes and it made me realize (as it was Thanksgiving after all) how thankful I am for so many things…Yes, here’s where it gets soppy (and I have to admonish my fellow Killzoners – where was the obligatory ‘what are we thankful for’ post last week?! Hey, I adopted this country for these kinds of celebrations!)

So here’s my top 5 things that I’m thankful for:

  1. My family (obviously) – you gotta love two five year old boys who manage to make it in the car to LA (and the three hour traffic jam we encountered Wednesday when we arrived) without watching even one DVD…
  2. That I still have an agent (he hasn’t abandoned me yet, at least I don’t think so…)
  3. That I still LOVE to write (despite the publishing industry’s best efforts…)
  4. That I get such great support from friends, family, fellow writers and fans so that even in the bleakest of November moods I can see a glimmer of hope.
  5. That I finally had my hair cut.

Okay, the last one may seem trivial but believe me I needed it! I’ve been growing my hair all year (see New Year’s resolution post) only to discover that (surprise, surprise) I hated it. Not only did my husband think it made me look older (yes, it’s a miracle sometimes that we’re still married) but I also never had the time to style it into any pseudo-Edwardian glory. I have to admit, as much as I might want to channel Ursula in my life, I need a maid to be able to do so…otherwise I’m just another boring old mum with her hair in a pony tail. Now, of course, post-hair cut, I’m the chic, youthful, cool mum with the gorgeous 1920’s bob:)

But enough about me…what are you thankful for?

PS: In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d also like to invite all killzoners to help out Basil Sands in his quest to name his blog radio show. He’s offering $25 if you suggest the name he ends up using, and for those of you who regularly read the comments you know he is hilarious (so his show is bound to be great!). You can visit his website: for more details.

Rituals, Celebrations and a Horse Race

By Clare Langley-Hawthorne

Believe it or not, a number of Americans have asked me how we celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia…before I remind them (with a cough) that Australian don’t celebrate Thanksgiving – it’s (another cough) an American ritual…and believe it or not they often seem genuinely shocked.

I am an unapologetic adopter of celebrations – I figure when in Rome…So my family are the ones cheerfully flying the American flag and organizing the Fourth of July street party. We take our boys trick or treating (something that growing up in Australia we never did) and at Thanksgiving we oblige by going through the whole nightmare of traveling, visiting and cooking – all in honor of our adopted home. I like celebrating. I like eating and drinking (I am, after all, an Australian!) and we get to enjoy the best of both worlds.
We fly the Australian flag on Australia Day and enjoy explaining the often strange rituals and celebrations of our homeland – which even to this day celebrates English holidays such as Boxing Day (which is the day after Christmas) despite the fact that no Australian I know has the least idea what this day is all about (apart from post-Christmas sales!).
When researching my Ursula Marlow series I came across a social calendar for 1910 which revealed just how the Edwardians set their calendars by events such as yacht races, polo and cricket matches, art gallery openings, theatre season etc. I was jealous just thinking about the pace of life back then. My favorite holiday is ‘Empire Day’ – it’s such an imperialistic conceit that I almost wish it was still celebrated – only because it would reveal how the British Empire is no more.
Of course Australia is still officially part of the Empire and as we have failed to ever pass a referendum to become a republic, the Queen of England is still our head of state. Yes, we even have a public holiday in honor of the Queen’s Birthday – now isn’t that hilarious! (Hey, I’m not knocking it though – I’m all for public holiday’s no matter what they are in aid of!).

Nothing in my research however is as funny as seeing American reactions to one very famous public holiday in Melbourne – one celebration that reveals the quirks of Australia that Americans would probably find hard to believe. That day is Melbourne Cup Day – the first Tuesday in November. It’s my all time favorite holiday mainly because my birthday quite often coincides (as it did this year) and who would ever complain about having a public holiday on their birthday?! So there you have it – in Australia we give everyone the day off in celebration of a horse race.

As immigrants we get to enjoy bringing the rituals from our home and taking on the rituals and celebrations of our adopted home, America. This Thanksgiving week I like to think it gives me the opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we are to be able to do this – to freely celebrate or not as we wish and to enjoy the welcome we have received here. America has been very good to me – it gave me the opportunity to fulfil my dream of being a published writer. I have been able to achieve things here that frankly I doubt I could have achieved in Australia. For that I am extremely thankful – but believe me when I say, I will never, ever be able to stomach pumpkin pie, no matter how many Thanksgivings I attend…

Some food for thought…what rituals and celebrations have you adopted and what have you brought with you from your other home (if you have one)? And in the spirit of Thanksgiving what are you thankful for?