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Locals enjoy turkey and give thanks

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Fun holiday: Sylvia Oliveira takes the turkey from the oven while her friends Susan Thomas, left, and Helena Thomas, right, look on (Photograph supplied)

Thanksgiving is not an official holiday in Bermuda, but many people here still find a way to celebrate, either by cooking a big family meal at some point during the week, or by ordering takeout from a restaurant, hotel or grocery store.

Rick Olson at The Bermuda Bistro at The Beach on Front Street cooks around 100 Thanksgiving dinners each year.

Customers can eat in the restaurant, take the food home, or have it delivered through the Sargasso app.

At $25 a dinner, Mr Olson thinks his dinners are the cheapest around.

“I don’t think Thanksgiving in Bermuda is getting more popular, because Thanksgiving was always popular in Bermuda,” he said. “I have been here for 25 years and it is always extremely busy around this time of year. A lot of American companies are closed that day and it is always a good day.”

American Susan Thomas will spend today cooking Thanksgiving dinner with her friend Sylvia Oliveira.

Ms Thomas is a broker at Brown & Brown Brokerage and Ms Oliveira is chief executive officer of Wilton Re.

“We usually start cooking at 10am, and I start drinking mimosas at 10.01am,” Ms Thomas joked. “Sylvia is more disciplined and waits until 12.01pm.”

Growing up in New York, Thanksgiving was always an important holiday in Ms Thomas’ Irish and Italian family, and signalled the beginning of the Christmas period.

When she moved to Bermuda and married a Bermudian, Jack Thomas, she looked for ways to incorporate her family traditions into her new life.

“My husband has always been on board and fortunately loves to cook and eat,” she said. “As our family grew and I made American friends who were also holiday loving expats we started to band together and our celebrating grew.”

Her signature dish is green bean casserole, which she makes from scratch without a drop of canned mushroom soup.

“The last two years have been especially poignant with so many people struggling with Covid-19, loneliness and hard times,” she said. “As a family we have felt a huge sense of gratitude for having our health and our ability to come together and kick off the holiday season.”

Thankful family: from left Tavin Trott, son Isaiah, wife, Mica Trott, and daughter Inara (Photograph supplied)

Bermudian couple Mica and Tavin Trott love the Thanksgiving meal, and also the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals afterwards.

They usually rotate between having a Thanksgiving meal with his family and with hers.

“We are taking the easy route this year and ordering dinner from Hamilton Princess & Beach Club,” said Ms Trott, a public relations specialist. “We will probably eat at my parents’ house and after dinner, sit around and debate hot topics. It can get heated with the different opinions.”

The Trotts are feeling particularly thankful today. Their youngest child, Inara, celebrates her first birthday on December 30.

Inara was born at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, five-weeks premature, weighing 3lbs 12oz. She spent her first 15 days of life, in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

“It was very scary,” Ms Trott said. “Today, she is a happy, thriving and active infant.”

Tomorrow, Ms Trott is hoping to score a good deal on children’s toys.

“My son, Isaiah, 3, has shared a long list of PJ Mask and Mickey Mouse toys that he would like,” Ms Trott said. “I think our daughter will be happy with anything that lights up and plays music; she loves to dance.”

Fiona Hatfield, veteran Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty real estate agent, also celebrates the holiday each year with her family. The tradition started because her grandmother was American.

“I think it’s important to celebrate with family and friends and be grateful for everything we have in our lives particularly our health after this pandemic,” she said.

She has many funny stories to recall. “One year, my mother was defrosting the turkey and when we came back home to put it in the oven, it was missing,” Ms Hatfield remembered. “We think a dog came into her house and ate it. Hence, for that Thanksgiving, we did not eat turkey.”

Cha’Von Clarke-Joell, Assistant Commissioner, Head of Policy and Engagement, said her family like to take a moment to reflect and give thanks each year.

“The tradition for my household is more around the reflections and pause to be thankful as opposed to the focus on dinner and other activities,” she said. “This year, we will buy a few plates to support a cause.”

Amoti Nyabongo, a change management and leadership development specialist, is spending the day with his wife, Janice, and son, Akiiki.

“Usually, what I do is drop off plates to some folks who may not be doing anything to celebrate,” he said. “I love to cook and do just about all the cooking for the family. I get that from my mother, Ada Nyabongo. She was the ultimate hostess.”

His signature dish is lasagne or beef with peppers.

This year, he will not be able to drop off care packages, because he is headed overseas for a funeral.

“We have so much to be thankful for,” he said. “First off, we are thankful for our good health as the last four years have been a real challenge.

“But we’re good and continuing to get better. We are also thankful for the ability to be able to rise to life’s challenges and see them through. I am thankful for good family and good friends to share life with.”

Former government minister, and author, Terry Lister, will not be eating turkey today, but still has a lot to be thankful for.

“My family has come through three years of Covid-19 without anyone becoming very ill,” Mr Lister said. “Good health is enjoyed by every member of my family. I am thankful that all adults, of working age, are working, while the children are doing well in school and otherwise.”

But he credits his family’s good fortune not to luck, but to God.

“l know that God has had his protective hand on my family,” he said. “I give thanks mainly for this. My prayer is that we, the people of Bermuda, will return to God and allow him to do his wonders on our behalf.”

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Published November 24, 2022 at 7:49 am (Updated November 25, 2022 at 7:51 am)

Locals enjoy turkey and give thanks

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