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Once again, it’s Thanksgiving Day again here in Las Galeras and once again we’ll sit down to a semi-traditional US dinner with an assortment of American and European ex-pats and a Dominican and Haitian or two. Once again we do have much cause to be grateful, beginning with the accidents of birth and the myriad twistings and turnings of our relatively full lives that have brought us to this point, and ending with friends–which is really what I want to write to you about today.

Denise was born on Thanksgiving Day. As you North Americans know, Thanksgiving is a movable feast, always falling on a Thursday. Of course, Denise’s birthday falls on the same date but a different day each year (although sometimes it seems as if she would like for her birthday to expand and encompass an entire week.)

This year, Denise’s “compleano” fell on Tuesday, when she turned a large number, one divisible by 10. Let’s admit that the number is not 50 and let it go at that, shall we?

Unlike any of the 20 or 25 other birthdays that I’ve shared with Denise, this one was fraught with a certain off-balance significance, manifesting in several mostly insignificant ways in the couple of weeks leading up to last Tuesday. In response to her understated concern, I determined to make a reservation for a lovely dinner for two at El Cabito, arguably the finest dining establishment around Las Galeras.

Several days before her compleano, and before I had gotten around to contacting John at El Cabito to make the Birthday Dinner arrangement, I received a telephone call from a friend and neighbor inviting us to join he and his wife for dinner at El Cabito on the following Monday or Tuesday. Naturally, I suggested that THEY join US to celebrate Denise’s birthday on Tuesday, an idea that was enthusiastically supported by Denise. My friend faltered for only a moment before announcing gravely, “Bill, I must speak with you, ALONE.”  Sensing the work of elves and fairies, I agreed and walked over to have a chat.

And, of course, there WAS mischief afoot. It came to pass that one of Denise’s best friends–a sort of wonderful daughter and sister and spirited fellow-traveler person–had somehow managed to locate our neighbor in Las Galeras from her home outside Bern in Switzerland, where with the assistance and company of several of our neighbors here in Las Galeras, she managed to arrange and remotely pay for a birthday fiesta for Denise at El Cabito (still arguably the finest dining establishment around.)

Denise’s surprise, relief, and delight at this turn of events was only heightened when her pal awakened in the middle of the European night to place a telephone call to Denise during dinner. Here’s a photo.

This Thanksgiving Holiday we are particularly aware of close friends and family and all manner of enjoyable and abiding and enduring relationships at home and abroad, however we may find them.

Best regards–and Happy Thanksgiving!


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