“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart.” – Psalm 86:12

In the United States there are 19 special annual occasions only 10 of which are Federal holidays. Last Thursday was a Federal holiday “Thanksgiving Day” when families and friends gather to give thanks for the year’s blessings. In many homes, a big dinner centred on roast turkey is served.

My son Kevin, who is a captain with Emirates, lives in Dubai and advised me that he would be traveling to New York to visit his younger brother Bevan, who manages his own New Jersey-registered company Marketplace Excellence. They invited me to join them since we had not had an exclusively boys’ lime since 1980, when they were 11 and eight years old respectively; and I needed to catch up with Bevan to spend quality time on an important business project.

In 1980, I took them to Lords cricket ground to see the West Indies play England in the 2nd Test, June 19-24. The memorable events were: (1) on the first day there was a cold breeze blowing through the stands and also it became so overcast that an appeal for light was upheld before lunch; (2) we witnessed a magnificent 223-run second wicket partnership between Desmond Haynes (184) and Vivian Richards (145) in the West Indies first innings; and (3) we saw Vivian Richards expertly caress the bowling of left arm spin bowler Derek Underwood for six fours in an over, three on the leg-side and three on the off-side, starting at fine leg and working his way systematically around the ground finishing up at third man.

A highlight of Thanksgiving Day, before one gets tucked into the turkey feast, is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which kicks off the holidays with unparalleled pomp and pageantry. The scale of the Parade was immense: more than 3.5 million people viewed the parade live along the parade route, and more than 50 million viewers tuned in to the television broadcast. We watched it on TV. Spectators watched in awe as 10,000 participants – including the nation’s best marching bands, performance groups, giant helium balloons, breathtaking floats and the one-and-only Santa Claus passed before their eyes.

Black Friday is the name given to the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at midnight on Thursday night or earlier, and offer deeply discounted promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season. On the way to our turkey feast with family on Thursday afternoon, for the sake of curiosity, we passed by a shopping plaza around 4:30 p.m. and observed that a queue of three, in pretty nippy weather, had already been formed outside a popular department store. When we enquired as to the opening hour, we were told 9 p.m.

I was scheduled to leave for New York on Sunday, November 19 on American Airlines, but after more than an hour’s wait on the plane, it was decided that due to a faulty door the aircraft had to be taken out of service. All passengers had to spend the night in Barbados and we left promptly at the rescheduled time at 7 a.m. on Monday. I was very impressed on arrival in New York when I discovered that American Airlines, without any prompting, sent me an email apologising for the delay and credited my AAdvantage miles account with a generous number of bonus miles as a token compensation for any inconvenience caused.

I must say that on arrival in New York, everything worked very smoothly and there was little evidence of damage done by Hurricane Sandy a few weeks before. But of course, I did not visit sites where it was said that there was more damage than they have ever seen before.

The diurnal temperature range was between 32 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit but one was dressed appropriately for the weather. It was dry, crisp and very pleasant, somewhat in contrast with the very hot and sometimes wet Barbados summer weather.

Bevan was the perfect host. He has certainly mastered the techniques of survival in New York City after close to 20 years. Kevin treated me to a magnificent performance of the Disney Broadway musical Lion King. The choreography was magnificent and the multinational cast was superb. A sample of the rave reviews of the show are: “There is simply nothing else like it” (New York Times); “The most exciting, most inventive, most moving theatre that has ever come to Broadway” (Good Morning America); “A perfect marriage of entertainment and art” (Daily News); “A deeply felt celebration of life” (Daily Telegraph); and “a colourful and elaborate triumph of the visual imagination” (Financial Times).

After the show we browsed around Times Square and then took the bus back to our residence in New Jersey. The drive was not that long, standing room only, but the wait for the bus tested one’s patience. We paused for a moment to reflect on the delays that there must have been when the trains were not running shortly after the advent of Hurricane Sandy.

It was a wonderful week of bonding, amidst pockets of email management and many work assignments. I returned early on Sunday morning fully refreshed and energised to face the on-going task of business consulting. We reflected on and breathed into a state of all-encompassing gratitude. As long as we have breath, we have life. As long as we have life, we are grateful.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – Columns are archived at

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