Thursday, 31 December 2009

It's New Year's Eve, as I'm sure you are all aware. I am, therefore, trying to summon something deep and meaningful to post here.

Unfortunately, the only thought I really seem capable of is one in which I wonder if the cleaner really had to come at 8.30 am after I was up til gone 2? Grr. Guess that's the end of my "feeling incredibly rested" streak.

So, what kind of year has it been?!

Well, for starters, as anyone who has been anywhere near any of my blogs - or, in fact, anywhere near me - will verify, it's been a West Wing year. 'Nough said on that one.

It's been a year of new beginnings, of rediscovering myself, of finding that being an expat in Brussels actually really is very me.

A year too when writing became a part of my life again - actually, it feels more like it's taken over my life.

But, mostly this: a year without heartbreak. I don't remember when I last said that. It feels unadventurous, maybe a little shallow, but you know what? I like it.

Which is kind of interesting, because that's one of the major themes I'm exploring in "Inevitable", the book I am currently writing. What's better - a life of adventure which ("inevitably") involves pain somewhere along the line, or a dull but happy life? Or can you not be happy without adventure anyway?

Still, in the meantime, here's to 2010, and may it be heartbreak-free. And possibly a little adventurous. It makes my blogposts more interesting.

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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Isaac and Ishmael - a few brief thoughts...

I’ve just watched Isaac and Ishmael for the first time.

The first time, you ask?

Well, yes. Both times I have been tearing through the West Wing and desperate to get to the action. Shame on me, I know. It’s also been quite cool knowing that there is an episode I hadn’t yet seen. Now, sadly, that’s it, and I have to make do with writing fan fiction (and yes, reading it too – one of my guilty pleasures!) and sobbing gently into my pillow with the unfairness of ER getting 15 seasons. Fifteen? Imagine that.

(We’d get to see President Santos reforming health care and managing to include a public option; freakishly intelligent curly haired, dimpled blonde children grow up to also be very organized and a little bit arrogant, and take over the world; and Sam finally seeing the light and marrying his French tutor, who looks a lot like me. Anyway.)

I really loved this – the way it explored the issues and taught me so much in the process, which is one of the hallmarks of the West Wing as a whole; the Aaron Sorkinesque one-liners; and, let’s face it, I wasn’t entirely opposed to the focus on Josh, either.

How amazing would it have felt to be one of those kids in Political Classroom?

I guess pretty much as amazing as it felt to get to be one of those younger actors in the West Wing. I loved the guy Josh called “Fred”, and the fact that Josh saw himself in him. That was moving. Moving also for me because I have often been that kid, or at least liked to think of myself at that kid. “Most people weren’t the smartest kid in the class,” Toby says elsewhere. “Most people didn’t even like the smartest kid in the class.” But what’s that compared to Josh Lyman looking you in the eye and saying “keep doing what you’re doing”? Wow. It’s enough to make you proud to be a geek – and that’s something it takes some of us a long time to learn.

It must be almost as amazing as Bradley Whitford looking you in the eye as an actor and saying the same thing.

Anyone know what any of those younger actors are up to these days?

Monday, 21 December 2009

The ghosts of Christmas past (a winter ficlet)

It’s just starting. Indecisive flakes are lazily making their way past your apartment, then thinking better of it and peeking into your neighbors’ windows before continuing their descent.

You love the snow, but for now you’re content watching it from indoors. The dog will need walking soon enough , and you’d like to wait until New York City’s fresh white coat is draped over its shoulders before you head out. You’ll take your camera and your snow boots and go exploring.

For now, though, you’re happy in your fluffy holiday sweater and your big thick socks. You flick on the TV and busy yourself warming some milk on the stove (no, who I am kidding, probably in the microwave) for that hot chocolate you are going to curl up with.

Your lurching stomach responds before your ears consciously do. You recognize immediately the Pavlovian reaction to that theme tune: that gut-level knot of nostalgia, pride, and frustration.

Frustration? Yes. There’s so much more to you than this one role. You are not her, and everyone seems to forget that – even those crazy fans who like to send you Facebook messages in the vain hope that you’ll one day respond; even those, very few and far between, who have worked out that your name is, in fact, a stage name. They forget that your character was created, that you breathed life into her, that although you may love her like a twin sister, she is distinct from you .They seem not even to be aware that you have played other roles. It shouldn’t get to you; you owe so much to the genius of this show, and to the wonderful character you were given to play. But it ended three years ago, and you want to move on. You think everybody should. All those websites are a little creepy.

And yet – those years were some of the happiest of your life.

Usually you flick the TV straight off. It’s simpler than trying to untangle all of that. But they’re showing the Christmas episodes (really? Could they not think of anything more original?) and those are some of the happiest memories of all. So you settle down with your hot chocolate and an enormous box of tissues with one eye on the snow that seems to be getting heavier, in sync with the episodes.

The phone rings at the end of the second one. Why are you not surprised when you see my name flashing up?

“Hey.” Even without caller ID you’d have recognized my voice with one syllable.

“Whatcha watching?”

A playful sigh makes its way down the phone line. “What do you think?”

You know the drill. “Yes, you were wonderful in that episode. Yes, you totally deserved that Emmy.”

“Thank you.” I like to think that was graciously uttered. “ But you know, you made me what I was.”

I say this so often that I don’t think you really hear it anymore; but I mean it every time. Do you remember when I got you to babysit my Emmy? I wanted it to sit on your shelf for a while. So much of what I was on the show was a product of my relationship with you; it seemed only fair.

You’re not the only one with conflicting emotions. “We had it good, didn’t we?”

I can almost hear your thoughts. Are we really going to do this every time they put on re-runs?

But you have no choice but to agree with me. You do add, though: “if by good you mean twenty hour days and forgetting what our friends and family looked like and being stalked in the street by hysterical people who have forgotten to take their medication.”

I know what you mean, although that seems to still be happening to me, with frightening regularity. I remind you of one perk you seem to be conveniently forgetting: “You also got to flirt with me every day for seven years.”

I can picture your broad, beautiful smile. “Well, yes. That was fun.”

“We were good together, weren’t we?”

The pause tells me I’ve overstepped the mark, as I am prone to do.

You say my name, a one-word scolding, in the same affectionate but exasperated tone your character used to take with mine.

I know what’s coming. Why must you always break the spell?

“I’m married,” you remind me. “And we’re happy.”

I know. And if you think I don’t kick myself every day...

You sigh again, this time not so playfully. You remember now why those emotions curdle inside you like benign poison, make you feel slightly nauseated. Why normally you flick straight onto another channel.

“You missed the window. Deal with it.” It would sound cold, but I know you. I know you don’t mean to hurt me, that it’s friendly advice, that I, like those crazy fans, need to move on, that it’s what’s best, for me, for our friendship.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Old habits die hard: it’s the same adolescent tone of voice I would use with my mother when she nagged me about getting a real job, in case, you know, the acting didn’t work out. So much of me is still a petulant teenager; that part of my character I had no problem identifying with.

“It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, though.” I'm glad you clarified that.

A line from Notting Hill pops into my head: in a depressingly asexual way... But for once, I choose to keep my mouth shut. See how I’ve grown?

“Or that making out with you wasn’t a lot of fun.”

Aha! Now, was that so hard to own up to?

“We were good together, weren’t we?” Just a little more reassurance is surely not too much to ask...

“Amazing,” you concede. “Now go away and leave me alone.”

“Okay,” I say, but there’s no click, and we both sit watching the snow with one eye and hours of us with the other, tissues in one hand, curled up with our hot chocolates.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Quirky things about Belgium, #357. #358, #359 etc...

It seems that I often seem to rant and rave about Belgium here. And I feel bad about this. I feel bad, because I can't help thinking it's an arrogant expat kind of attitude that does this; an attitude I have spent most of my life despising. I feel bad, because for all its quirks, I love Belgium. It's home.

So here are some quirky things about this place, that make me smile rather than stamp my foot in frustration:

- the kindness of strangers.
This warrants a post to itself, and in time it will get one, but so often there have been people to help me just when I needed them - people who in London would have looked right through me or maybe shrugged their shoulders or pushed me out of the way

- my local supermarket - Tesco Metro equivalent - sells fresh, home made soup, made by a lady who brings it to them every day. I just think that's so cool. Souper, in fact. (Sorry. Plenty more where that came from, so I am actually being quite restrained.)

- the little hooks next to train seats to hang your coat up! Priceless!

- the way they wrap your presents for you in shops. I love them for this. I'm so bad at wrapping presents, and I get distracted by Friends episodes when I try and do it.

So there you go. That's just the beginning. Watch this space for more thrilling installments in the New Year...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Quirky things about Belgium, #356

Ah, Brussels South Airport. "The friendly airport." How I wish I could say that I love you.

I'd like to love you for your ridiculous name. Possibly even more ridiculous than "London Luton".

I'd like to love you for your slightly-too-efficient security guys. My luggage will fit in the Ryanair measuring thingy. It will. Even if I have to bribe you with the chocolate I thought I was packing to give to my friends when I arrive, if you ever let me on this plane.

I'd like to love you, most of all, for your oh-so-efficient use of lighting in the toilets. Movement-sensitive. But only sensitive to movement close to the washbasins. Once people are in a cubicle, sitting still and attending to business, the light turns itself off. We have to shuffle back out, trousers round our ankles, to coax the light to come on again. Pure Belgian genius.

Such pure Belgian genius, in fact, that someone in an adjoining cubicle quips, "Ca a encore été inventé par un Belge, ca..." then apologises profusely for her assumption that "Belgian" sometimes means the same as "faintly ridiculous".

It's really okay. I live here. I understand exactly what she means.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Thankful, part 2

Today, I am thankful for...

drumroll please...


I know, I know. I should be supporting my local bookshops, not some big evil American corporate entity. Boo hiss.

The thing is, though - they're brilliant. Not just cheap, though I will freely admit that cheap is a big part of it. But so efficient. Admittedly I can't get the free postage from here in Chocolate Land, but it's not extortionate, and my parcels arrive soooo quickly! And now you can track them too!

In my defence, living in Belgium means buying English books here is an expensive business. But I wouldn't want to give you the impression that I never used Amazon before. Oh no.

(Lest you think I am over my West Wing addiction, I'd also like to plug the fact that you can currently get *the entire box set* for just under fifty pounds! The entire box set!)

And then of course there's the Wish List feature. I'm the only person I've ever met who plugs mine, which is 37 pages long because I started way back in 2001 when I barely had a grip on email, let alone exciting things like online shopping. But getting presents you actually want? You can't put a price on that. (Well, you know what I mean.) And in fact getting more presents, because all people need to do is click a couple of times. Genius. Pure genius.

And what's more, free with every book comes its own protective cardboard wrapper, which you can use religiously every time you leave the house with some reading material. OCD? Maybe. But a book with a bent spine or upturned corners? Shudder.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

I am Donna Moss...

I am Donna Moss.

Deluded, I hear your cry. Someone give her a dozen tablets and lock her in a small room with no light and definitely no West Wing DVDs.

It’s okay. I am fully aware that I am not tall, slim, blonde and stunningly beautiful.

But I do have more in common with Donna than a predilection for handsome, powerful Democrats with dimples, good hearts and a certain heroic determination to make the world a better place. (Not realising, of course, that their very presence does that. Ahem. I digress.)

Those of you who know me probably realise I am not talking about her powers of organisation. I like index cards, but am pretty sure she would not approve of the way they are strewn on my mess-ridden floor.

I did use to think philately was fun, and I also have been told that there is a bright future for me as a stalker, should I desire to go down that career path.

But there’s something else, too.

“I’m a flautist. I play the flute... I ask myself, if I’d pursued the flute professionally, would I be meeting interesting men? And the answer comes back to me: Probably not."

All depends, of course, what you mean by interesting. If you mean men capable of distracting you from Josh Lyman, well, let’s not fool ourselves: that is a tall order for anyone.

If you mean interesting as in “would make a great character in a novel”, though, there is plenty of mileage in it. (Although let’s not overdo the artist thing. A professional flautist and a professional writer? I’d have no time to bore you all with my delusional thoughts...)

Men who at, say, 45 ask you how much you paid for your flute and does it have a silver heard and you really should consider investing in one of those flutes with holes in the keys (I’m so unprofessional I don’t even know what they’re called). Interesting, yes. In a sociological study kind of way. It does make you wonder, you know, about their childhood and stuff.

So yes, Donna. You would be meeting “interesting” men. But I think you and I probably ought to stick to politics.

Windows 7: not so great after all...?!

I know, I know. Some of us are never satisifed. But it does seem to me that the point of upgrading is that things are supposed to work better after you do.

So, for those of you out there considering upgrading, and for those of you who like problem solving and feel like suggesting solutions, here, in no particular order, are some of the issues I've encountered within 12 hours of getting my sparkly new operating system. (Well, the disk is sparkly, anyway. Very pretty, in fact.)

- I'll start with a minor one, which nevertheless irks me: my screen saver is set to randomly show me photos, in shuffle mode. It now seems to be doing the same order every time - so after 2 minutes of inactivity, up comes the same photo, and then the same one that followed it before, etc. Since this includes a couple of very lovely pictures of Josh Lyman early on, you'd think I wouldn't mind, but...

- I apparently do not have permission to update my own iPod. I won't even begin to try and express my frustration on that one, lest I lose all of my readers for good.

- This apparently is an Internet Explorer problem - I no longer have "permission" to click on hyperlinks in my Outlook. I've tried all the solutions suggested by various people. Nothing works. It's a problem with Internet Explorer - and get this - Windows 7 is programmed so that you CAN'T uninstall it!!! So what exactly am I meant to do, hmmm?

- Skype no longer seems able to do videocalls. Which is great when that's part of your job!

- msn chat has to all extents and purposes disppeared. I can't work out what Microsoft have done with it, but I can't uninstall the new version in order to get the old one back. Grr.

- Outlook now seems unable to perform a "search" function.

Seriously, though. I know I've said this already, but isn't upgrading supposed to improve things? Aren't technological advances supposed to make our life better? Seethe, seethe.

Monday, 7 December 2009

2009: A year in the life of Claire

1.What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

Went to America. (DC and NYC.) First longish-haul flight, first time I'd even wanted to go to the US. Loved it, in case you have missed that somehow.

Dangled my feet in the world of fan fiction. In fact, believe it or not, until this year I was not really aware that such a thing existed.

Started living by myself. It's wonderful.

Went to Rendez Vous, a Bible week in the South of France. Only one thing better than meeting wtih God - meeting with God in the sunshine and then spending the afternoons by the pool, drinking coffee and reading!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?

No, but I think I'm going to make the same one this year: to learn a new word every day. I did learn quite a few though! Most recently, "obdurate". I like that one.

3. Did anyone you know give birth?
Yes, but no one I'm especially close to. Next year will be fun though :)

4. Did anyone you know die?
No one I'm close to.

5. What countries did you visit?
USA, Holland, England, France, Ireland. Ooh, that's quite a lot!

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
More discipline to actually get things done!
A few months off and lots of money to go on a big trip around the US!
I would not say no to an attractive man who was madly in love with me, looked a lot like Brad Whitford, and also happened to be passionate about God and Church planting.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
24th March. The day I moved back to Belgium, exactly 18 years after leaving.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Erm... finishing the West Wing?
Learning to play "we gather together" in E flat major on the oboe.
Maybe I should put "achieve something" on my to-do list for next year.
Oh, no, wait, I became a published writer this year with my articles in the Mag!

9. What was your biggest failure?
I'm not sure what it says about me that I can't think of anything!!
I gave up on learning Dutch - but I like to think of that as effective prioritising rather than failing as such.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
More fluey things than is normal for me. Belgian germs and American germs - pah! Also I have an enormous cavity in a wisdom tooth but I'm hoping that will just go away. (!)

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A book called "So you think you can spell? Killer quizzes for the incurably competitive and overly confident." (Ahem.) Turns out my spelling is not all I thought it was.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I like that question, but can't think of anyone right now...

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Where is George Bush when you need him?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Holidays and bank charges. Also books.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Series 7, episode 13 of the West Wing ("the Cold"). I know, I need to get out more.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
The West Wing theme tune.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder, thinner or fatter, richer or poorer?
Happier, marginally fatter, perhaps slightly less poor.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Writing. But hey, you can always do more.
Meeting people. I'm turning into an introvert. It's freaking me out.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Faffing around hitting refresh on twitter and facebook - unbelievable how much time you can waste that way.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Wishing I was somewhere else!

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
Not with any real people, no, which might explain the lack of heartache this year (hooray!).

With Josh Lyman, yes, with America, yes, and with the English language. (Aaron Sorkin is in large part reasonsible for all those things.)

24. What was your favourite TV program?
Is there anything else apart from the West Wing?

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Don't think so!

26. What was the best book you read?
Ooh I've read a lot this year, so it's hard to choose. Loved Obama's Dreams from my Father - the first biography I've ever read, and I did not expect it to be so interesting or so beautifully written.
"Then they come to the end" - I loved the style.
Currently reading "The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao" - also fantastic, as is "Reading like a Writer". I'll stop there, for now.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I've started oboe lessons again, and that's quite fun.

28. What did you want and get?
A new start.
A trip to the US (though I didn't start wanting that till the summer!)

29. What did you want and not get?
A coffee with Janel Moloney in New York.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
500 days of Summer - loved it. It reminded me of Amélie - anyone else?

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
31. Played a fab board game with some people I love very much and have known forever :)

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Finishing my novel. (but I'm doing okay considering!)
Doing some kind of course with the OU. I will definitely do that next year.

Okay, that's two things.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
You know what, now I'm in my thirties, my personal fashion concept is to wear what I like and what I feel comfotable in. I will never be one of those super-cool, super-stylish people. I've made my peace with that, mostly.

Though I've bought a lot of argyle lately, and I'm loving the current trend for purple.

34. What kept you sane?
My alternative universes: the West Wing, and thinking about the plot and characters in my novel.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
That's easy. Josh Lyman/Brad Whitford. I had a Sam Seaborn stage previously too but I saw the light.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I've now had two nightmares about the Conservatives winning the next election. Did you know that David Cameron has openly admitted to not even liking the West Wing? I know, it's shocking. You really want to entrust the future of the nation to such a man? Political lecture over.

37. Whom did you miss?
Fewer people than normal and less painfully than normal. But the usual suspects.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Difficult to choose, though a special mention must go to Isabel for rescuing me from my stalker and becoming my friend in the process!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
I don't know if this counts as life, but in writing - keep your hero and heroine apart as long as you possibly can - it keeps people hooked!!
Also, life is too short to read books that do not grab you.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
In a New York minute, everything can change...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Belgium does it again!

... and they say nothing interesting ever comes out of this tiny, delightfully quirky country.

Think again, dear readers.

And no, I'm not talking about the deep excitement that is the EU Presidency, delightful though it has been to have Radio Four use it as an excuse to wheel out all the old Belgium jokes. (Here's one of the better ones - "Do you think Belgian officials drive around in cars with Tintin-ed windows?" I admit to chuckling at that one.)

No, ladies and gentleman, this is something far, far more world-changing, more inovative, more - well, words fail me.

Yes, just when you thought life couldn't get any better: Belgium brings you the Twoddler. Yes, now your small child can tweet too.

Though personally as far as Belgian inventions go, I think I favour the saxophone, or those bitter lemon sweet things called the Napoleon.


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Claire's West Wing article

Implausible as it may sound, I happen to know that someone googled "Claire Handscombe West Wing article" today. Sadly, they would have come up with nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Well, okay, not quite zilch. We'll call it zilch plus one. They would have come up with my west wing fan fiction, which is how I know they googled it the first place, but that's another story.

But they would not have found my article.

Which is sad. Tragic, almost.

So, dear fans, be disappointed no longer. (Fans of mine, or fans of the West Wing, who knows - or are the two synonymous these days? There go those delusions of grandeur again...)

By way of introduction and a quick plug, this article was written for a fantastic language-learning magazine called the MAG, which is available for advanced students of French, Dutch and English, and which I highly recommend, and not only for the penetrating insights shared by some of the contributors. (Ahem. Those delusions again...) Not even just for my dulcit tones which make an occasional appearance on the accompanying CD.

I wanted to scan in the actual article, but both my computer and my technological powers have failed me, so for now text only will have to do.

So without further ado, here it is - written for an audience who have likely never heard of the amazing viewing experience that is my favo(u)rite TV show... but have hopefully now all been converted!

It’s ten years since the pilot episode of The West Wing was aired, but the TV show still inspires devotion that goes way beyond the norm for a television programme, and arguably with good reason. It informs and educates even the most politically ignorant, but never patronises. But that’s not all it does: it makes you laugh, cry, gasp and occasionally shout and perhaps throw things at your television.

The West Wing gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in politics, in much the same way as ER does with hospitals, or the Wire with the legal world. As the name suggests, it is set in the West Wing of the White House, under the fictional (left-leaning, Democratic) President Bartlet, and features his family, senior staff, and other political types, such as journalists. Sound boring? Think again.

In the words of the late John Spencer, who played Leo (Chief of Staff and closest advisor to President Bartlet): “The West Wing is about human relationships, the backdrop is politics in the White House. But, basically, it's about ... these people who have worked together and formed complex friendships over the years.”

And these people are not just anybody. They are fantastically written, brilliantly portrayed, and complex. (Kudos to Aaron Sorkin, the creator and original writer, for that and so many things). It has been said that “in fiction, in order to engage our attention and sympathy, the central character must want and want intensely."; politicians at this level are deeply passionate people, and that is perhaps the key. This passion in the characters is intensely captivating – you find yourself rooting for them, crying with them, wanting to hug them. Of course, it does not hurt that several of them are rather attractive.

There are even a few love interests, subtly interwoven into the plot, and often doomed and difficult, most notably the smouldering romance between Josh Lyman and his devoted and highly capable assistant Donna Moss. The chemistry between them manages to gently simmer for seven seasons until... well, you’ll just have to watch it and see.

This show has everything you could possibly want from a television series: drama, humour, suspense, superlative acting from an amazing cast. The writing is fast paced and intelligent, with dozens of fantastic one-liners which fans delight in pulling out of their hats at any opportunity. The filming has also been deservedly praised, and the thoughtfully matched, often haunting music also merits a mention. Critical acclaim has been overwhelming, in the shape of 27 Emmy awards and many more nominations for individual actors, the casting as a whole, and various aspects of the writing, filming and music.

Whether you tune into the West Wing with a good grasp of American politics, or with no clue whatsoever, you will come away having learned something, whether it’s the meaning of an obscure Latin phrase such as “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” , or that there are only three words in the English language that start with “dw”. You will have been “ensorcelled” and “bewitched” by the characters (to quote one of them), the big themes, and the outstanding writing. You may even start planning a trip to America or writing fan fiction.

You risk losing a large chunk of your life to the West Wing if you cave to temptation and buy the boxed set of DVDs (currently priced at just under £50 on, a bargain by any standards) . You may be hooked for life. You may never be the same again.

You have been warned.

On being thankful...

If there's one thing the Americans definitely do better than us (apart from political dramas... okay, I really was going to try not to mention the West Wing on this post, but what can you do...?), it's being thankful.

We have Harvest Festival, aka getting your five year old to take a can of sweetcorn into school to add to the big pile of cans. I mean, come on.

But a whole day of being thankful, well a weekend really, because you also get to be thankful for the time off, and thankful for all the bargains to be had on Black Friday (and then thankful for the fact that not all shopping days are that crazy). And you get to eat delicious turkey and cranberry sauce and green bean casserole and pecan pie till you can't be thankful or really feel any emotion at all ever again.

This all strikes me as a very good thing, and an excellent way to kick in the season where surely we should be at our most grateful - that God Himself would come to earth surely tops the list of "wow" moments.

So, inspired by this, and by the blog of Ami Loizides whom I follow on Twitter despite never having met her (funny old world)... I am going to start being explicitly thankful a bit more often. I hope that's okay.