The Berlin Diaries – Thanksgiving

I’m English, which means I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and don’t really know what it’s about. Hang on. Let’s educate ourselves. Right, you wait here, and I’m going to trek to the mystical land of Wikipedia in search of answers. If I’m not back in three paragraphs, assume I’ve failed my quest, give me an honorary funeral (Viking style, please), and move on with your life. Promise me, if I fail, you will try to learn to love again. Promise me you will find another blog filled with stupid drunken travelling stories. You promise? Okay. Here goes.


Days pass. You try to occupy your mind with wholesome activities, but you can’t shake the feeling something terrible has happened to me. Why isn’t he back yet? This single question echoes in the anxious blackness of your mind. Has something happened to him? On the third evening without word, you rest your head on the pillow, but no sleep comes. You finally drift off in the early hours.

The next morning, you awake to blinding white light spearing in the windows. You jump to your feet and gaze outside. The ground is covered in a foot of thick white snow. And in the distance… trudging up the winding pathway… you see me. You gasp, and dash outside. You grab me, and I wrap my arm around you for support. I am weak and weary, my skin is rough and I am unshaven, and my body is wrapped in thick furs. You notice dried blood on my hands.

You help me stagger inside, and I collapse into a chair by the fireplace. You hastily pour a large cup of tea from the pot and hand me it. I cradle the gently steaming liquid and stare into the fire. “Did…” you ask, “did you find it?” I look up at you through heavy lidded eyes, and crack a slow smile. From inside my coat I heave a large, leathery scroll. I throw it on the floor, where it unravels. You look from me, to the scroll and back in disbelief. The parchment is filled with ancient runes, glowing softly. It reads:

‘The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621.[4] This feast lasted three days, and—as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow[5]—it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.[6] The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.[7]’


Huh. So after all that toil in the land of Wikipedia, turns out Thanksgiving is…. just a big meal that you eat… because… you’re grateful for… something. Meh, whatever, it’s a great excuse to ingest food and wine in such colossal volumes that even Emperor Nero would vomit in his mouth at the sight.

Annie invited me a few weeks back to her Thanksgiving dinner, and in the hungry weeks leading up to it, when my daily meals consisted of bread and potatoes, I found that the idea of the impending banquet became my Holy Grail, my guiding light. No matter how empty my stomach was, redemption in the form of a big fuck off pile of roasted foodstuffs was just around the corner.

I was nursing a horrendous hangover/comedown/general illness from the previous night’s antics in the squat and the gay bar, and horrendously, I woke up with absolutely zero appetite. Weeks of waiting, and on the day of the dinner my ghrelin gauge (it’s the hunger hormone, GET ON MY LEVEL) was flashing red. I decided to starve myself all day to work up an appetite.

I arrived at Annie’s clutching two litre bottles of wine, one white, one rosé, which cost me the princely sum of €3,50. Now, here is a question for you: what is the worst entrance you have ever made to a party? Tripped when you walked in? Walked into the wrong building? Yes, I’ve done all of those as well, and my entry to Annie’s was worse.

I pressed the buzzer outside and the door clicked open. I passed Annie struggling down the stairs carrying a bin bag. She gave me a big smile and said hello, and declined when I offered a hand. She went outside to the bins and I floated up the stairs to her flat, with no idea of which door hers was. There was a strange, electric tone playing throughout the building, which I couldn’t quite place. As I ascended the stairs, an attractive Spanish woman shot down past me, eyeballing me. I waited on the second floor for Annie.

The Spanish woman flew back up, and said something to me in German. I asked if she spoke English, and she switched. “You press the buzzer and you fucked it up. It is stuck ringing for two minutes.” Oh. Er, right. I fumbled and made vague apologetic noises. Annie arrived in the middle of my public berating, and apologised on my behalf. We entered Annie’s flat… as did the Spanish woman. Ah, of course, she was Annie’s flatmate. Of course. Hated immediately. Jolly good.

I entered the flat and took my shoes off. Flossie, Michelle and Orsi were already there preparing the food. The buzzer had been stuck blasting all of them with the ear-scraping sound of a gigantic electric bee malfunctioning for several minutes. “You broke the buzzer you cunt!” Michelle yelled before hugging me hello. 5 seconds into the party and I was dubbed a cunt. I had been Cunted – like being knighted except you’re a twat. Nobody has ever been called a cunt that quickly. No one. Jason Vorhees has stomped through the bushes into lakeside campsites brandishing a blood encrusted machete and received more diplomatic welcomes.

So, with ‘ MASSIVE CUNT’ branded onto my forehead, I got sat down and opened my wine. Despite feeling fragile from the night before and the recent verbal flogging that was still smarting, I was in a good mood. Jovial, even. Chipper, you might say. Michelle and I chatted. It’s always great talking with Michelle, because we discuss literally everything and anything that pops into our heads. Our conversations are usually a giant cluster of loose ends because we get too excited and leap from topic to topic like a kangaroo on bath salts.

After a couple of hours, more people had arrived, including Harry and Thomas, and the food was served. Now, down the centuries, literary types have employed various tactics and original turns of phrase when describing the sensations brought on by excellent food. However, I have racked my brain and combed the recesses of my memory for suitable language to describe the meal, and I have found that Annie’s Thanksgiving dinner can only be summed up fairly by one word: FUCK. It was perfection. Delicately roasted sprouts with tiny bits of bacon, home-made vegetarian stuffing, a gravy made with diced shiitake mushrooms that I would literally give my life for another spoonful of, cranberry sauce from scratch, a thick and spicy soup, warm bread rolls, all washed down with copious amounts of wine.

Deserts came in the form of banoffee pie, which I’m told was fabulously delicious but I don’t remember eating because I was a 1 litre and a half of wine deep at that point. Annie had catered for around 25 people, and they were still trickling in by 11pm, which meant food had to be left for them. This was agony, and I whimpered a little each time I had to walk past the rows of delectable dishes on the side. Annie’s flat is nowhere near big enough for 25 people to sit and eat, so instead we sat in a spare bedroom and ate off paper plates.

I’m going to steal Denmark’s favourite word here and describe the whole affair as ‘hyggeligt’. I used to have a Danish girlfriend, and the Danes use ‘hyggeligt’ in every other sentence. It’s pronounced ‘hoo-glit’ and it has no direct translation. It’s basically nice, cosy, warm, happy and every good emotion all rolled into one.

After the food, I was nothing but content. I chatted to a load of people, and met some cool new characters. The party migrated into Annie’s bedroom, leaving the Spanish woman and her friends chilling in the spare room. They were a little older, and were having a whale of a time watching old 80’s music videos on Youtube. I showed them The Clash and had a mini drunken ramble about why I love them, which, thankfully, went down well. One woman showed me an Iggy Pop live performance, which was cool. It was quite sweet as the night went on: walking past their room, I kept peering in to see five or six adults sitting cross legged on the floor watching and dancing to music videos that they grew up with.

A round of applause from the kitchen drew me in. A guitar had appeared from nowhere, and a guy I’d chatted to earlier was playing, with Flossie singing. She has an amazing, soulful voice – and the guy on guitar was great, too. They played song after song in the kitchen, with everyone joining in periodically.


At around 1am I declared to Michelle, Flossie and Thomas that I was too drunk, and must take my leave. I’m good at this – I know when I’ve had enough, and take myself home. I actually bought a mini pizza on the way home, awful glutton that I am. God knows how it physically fit inside me. Drunk Dan’s stomach knows no bounds.

My first ever Thanksgiving was a lovely night. Annie had a little basket in her bedroom, along with a pen and a small pile of paper. People were writing things they were thankful for, folding them up, and popping them in the basket. Here’s the list:

– the lovely lovely people around me
– endless new friends
– Thank you universe for air
– Janka ♥ in Berlin + my whole family
– for meeting all of YOU!
– Danke für die Tähigkeit zu fühlen (“thank you for the ability to feel”)
– your bum
– brussel sprouts
– for being FULL
– 4 U
– ♥
– Annie’s beautiful eyes + hospitality xx
– being young (THIS ONE WAS MINE, WOOOOO!)
– having met the people who have changed my life + made it a happy one
– the fact that the Wintergarten exists
– gratitude
– Harry’s new HDTV
– Berlin
– a bass speaker
– my beautiful, smart amazing sister Anna and my funny brother
– Annie’s glorious Thanksgiving dinner

Pretty much sums it up.

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