Our First ManxgivingAs our guests left, they kept saying ‘I can’t wait for next year’s Manxgiving!’ We didn’t realise that we were creating a tradition, but upon reflection, we know that Manxgiving will be a cherished addition to our holidays.
I moved to the Isle of Man in August, following my Manx husband. We met while working abroad and decided to set up our home in the place he grew up- the Isle of Man. I had visited a few times and was in love with the nature and landscape of the Island and was further enticed by its accessibility to the UK and Europe.
In just 3 short months, I’ve gotten a job, settled in to our apartment, decorated said apartment, adopted a dog and now I can truly say- my home (and heart) are on the Isle of Man (although driving on the right hand side of the road still proves a challenge!).
My mother has wanted to visit the Island for years! But with my partner and my work schedule it was difficult to find times that matched up. Finally, the heavens aligned and mom landed on the Island the first week of November.
We took this woman all over the Island. Jet lag?? She didn’t have TIME for jet lag! Train rides, castles, beaches and tours were all included in my mother’s holiday- but the event we were all waiting for was the feast that would be happening- our Manxgiving.
It was a bit too early for the ‘real’ Thanksgiving, but as I was not planning a trip back to the States this month, we said ‘Damn the calendar! We’ll make our own day’. And thus, Manxgiving was born.
Mom and I headed to the grocery store and bought out MOST of it. We had enough food to feed a small country! We walked the trolley to my partner’s small car and I climbed in the back seat flanked by eggs, sugar and a whole cast of ingredients.
We started cooking early in the day to prepare for our 6:30pm dinner. Green bean casserole, twice baked sweet potatoes, apple pie, and turkey were all under mom’s skilful watch while I added a few non-American dishes to the mix (home baked profiteroles, cheesy cauliflower, and Yorkshire puddings!)
Some of my mother’s recipes have been handed down for generations. We spent quite a bit of time converting cups to litres and Fahrenheit to Celsius… why, oh why doesn’t America use the metric system?
We laughed til it hurt- I didn’t realise how much I missed my mom’s smile and sense of humour. She helped me get my desserts just right- even though she struggled to even SAY ‘profiterole’. We sipped red wine as we baked and danced around to Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi- a TRUE Thanksgiving tradition.
We had so much going at once that we had to move the kitchen to my next door neighbour’s house who lent us hers (it’s my sister-in-law, she didn’t mind especially since she was invited!)
Like a Manxgiving miracle, the food was all done by 6:30 in time for our guests. My partner’s family clamoured in to our new apartment followed by some friends and quite a few bottles of wine.
After initial drinks and appetizers, my mother stood up to make a toast, “During thanksgiving, we like to go around and have everyone say something they are thankful for. I’ll start. I’m thankful for my daughter and this beautiful time we get to spend together. I am thankful that she is surrounded by this beautiful family and friends and I’m so glad we get to celebrate this with all of you.”
One by one, our guests shared something they were thankful for and the answers ranged from the silly to profound. It was a lovely, lovely start to our feast.
My apartment is still new and we haven’t quite finished decorating or getting all the necessary furniture for it… a fact we remembered a little too late. The first Manxgiving was celebrated eating off paper plates, with plastic forks, and on the floor (that’s right- we didn’t have a table!)
Friends and family were sprawled around our apartment- eating on the couch, on steps and leaning against the kitchen counter. It was a bit uncouth- but it made the night that much better.
The feast we thought too big was gobbled down and everyone took home a heaping plate of leftovers. Card games were played long into the night as guests casually nibbled on the remaining desserts.
This was the first party we hosted in our new home, and it seemed very appropriate that it was a hybrid of my American Thanksgiving. Not fully American, not fully Manx- just like our family. But the combination of our heritages made this holiday all the better. The blending and mixing of traditions is the hallmark of our home.
As our guests left, they kept saying ‘I can’t wait for next year’s Manxgiving!’ We didn’t realise that we were creating a tradition, my partner and I just thought it would be a nice thing to do while my mother was here. But upon reflection, we know that Manxgiving will be a cherished addition to our family’s holidays.
Manxgiving; the original Manx-American Holiday.