An International Thanksgiving

As is the Hampton family custom on Thanksgiving, my wife Sandra and I visited our son, Richie and his wife Endeliza for dinner at their house. Our wives agreed on a menu beforehand as well as who will prepare what for our little get-together.

Keep in mind that although Rich and Liza have been married going on twenty years, and together for five more, they don’t have any kids. My wife, always the one to crack a joke, makes reference to the absence of a possible grandchild by them in this way. Referring to Rich’s younger days when he was in the streets, she always asks, “Well, when is little snub-nose going to join our little family?”  Liza always laughs, plays it off and reminds her mother-in-law of that Christmas long ago when she gave her a stuffed doll and told her she could pick any name for it. Anyway, the couple is happy in their life with each other, and that’s all that counts.

They live a block from Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland so that you can imagine the size of their apartment. It is perfect for them, with a small kitchen, small living room, small office space and a bedroom with a nice queen size bed. Although small, you did get that didn’t you? It reminds me and my wife of some of the little love nests we rented back in the day. The point is although small, it’s designed to accommodate the two people who inhabit it.

We had no idea as to who was joining us but was very surprised when four more people arrived a half hour after my wife and I. Richie answered the knock on the door. “This is Paivi. She is from Finland. This is Nicoletta. She is from Italy. And then there is George, he is African but has been living in the US forever. And last but not least, this is Carol, she is from Ohio,” Richie stated as we shook hands and acknowledge each other.

Me, who cannot ever seem to remember names when first introduced, remembered the homeland of each person. After setting down, my wife who received a cell phone call from one or our friend wishing us a happy Thanksgiving quickly summed up the affair. “Oh yeah, we are having an international Thanksgiving with Richie and Liza.”  I, never wanting to offend anyone looked at Sandra, who asked me “What’s wrong with that?” On second thought nothing, I reasoned as she had perfectly described the gathering.

My son, looking at his parents questionable expressions went on to say the group (the three ladies excluding George) had just arrived in California to attend a concert in Santa Cruz and took the time to visit him in Oakland. They were leaving the day after the concert. They all met on Facebook and were seeing each other for the first time on this trip. At least that is what I got out of the conversations.

It was fun watching my daughter-in-law work it. Liza, always the make do with whatever you have, efficiently did her thing. She made everyone comfortable by placing the dinner table in the middle of where everyone was already seated in chairs or on the sofa.

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As you can imagine the before, during and after dinner conversation was interesting, especially while listening to the newcomers’ impressions of the United States. Nicoletta was told to bring a bikini as it would be bikini weather. She chided George, who was the one who gave her such a tropical weather report. His report caused her to pack clothing as though she was headed for beach weather. Sunshine and blue skies were dancing in her head. Needless to say, she had to buy a warm coat to deal with the Northern California cold weather.

It was her description of differences in the US driving requirements versus Italy that brought about an almost universal agreement. For those who have driven in Italy or know that the speed limits are, well let’s just say, a driver is practically on their own in gauging how fast they should drive in certain areas. She felt a speed limit of 25 miles per hour was “just too slow.”  And the fact that you had to stop at a stop sign whether anyone or a vehicle was around was as she described it “Stupid.”  Ummm…are you reading this DMV?

Paivi was a little shy, except when asked a question. She smiled a lot as others dominated the conversation. I was trying to get in a question regarding the social aspects of Finland, but it never happened. Finally, she responded to another subject question directed at her.  It turned out she was not as shy as I thought. So she felt comfortable enough to express herself in perfect English. It was Nicolette that was having problems with translating her thoughts into English. In the end, she got her point across where as everybody understood her.

George was the talker, and who seem like the main guide for the ladies. He played the role well. No hanky-panky here as all had left mates back home. It was a just a genuine friendship between them that allowed each to be themselves.

And of course, we learned that Carol was a nurse from Canton Ohio, home of the NFL Hall of Fame. She stated her family lived a few blocks from the old stadium where they played the game.  Adding her kids played high school ball in the stadium. They’ve torn the old stadium down making way for a brand new one. The NFL is also building a new four-star hotel to house the dignitaries, guest, NFL personnel and the new honorees as well as the old inductees. She says the event is more like a two-week celebration up to the Hall of Fame Game and shortly after that.

All in all, we had a very nice Thanksgiving meal with interesting conversations from nice people. We also got to visit with our son and daughter-in-law.

Peace, make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,

 

Codis Hampton II

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“In my latest book, Remember Moz, Gracie & John Hampton’s First-Born, I wanted to tell the world about a unique individual. Not because he happened to be my father but to explain who he was, where he came from, and how he evolved into the man he became up until his death. In doing so, I wrote of his ancestor’s roots back to and through the Civil War. The inclusion of his birth and upbringing in the heart of Arkansas, or Jim Crow country, add southern reluctance to learn why our country involved itself in a bloodthirsty four-year exercise in the first place? Then you begin to understand why, our parents behaved the way that they did. See if I captured the essence of this paragraph.” Get the book via the Authors Page at http://outskirtspress.com/webPage/isbn/9781478766056

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