Sunday 1 December 2013

According to my friend Phil, until Thursday, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah hadn't fallen on the same day for 125 years. And now that day's over, they won't coincide again for another 70,000!

The two celebrations actually have a lot in common: the origin of the quintessential American holiday is a feast of thanksgiving celebrated by American Indians and Pilgrims, who'd fled from religious tyranny in Europe. For Jews, Hanukkah is also a celebration of the freedom of a minority to worship as it chooses.

Never one to turn down an excuse for a party (particularly when both of these traditions involve thanking God for the abundant harvest by eating copious amounts of food), I decided it was very important that we celebrate the rare and historical occasion of Thanksgivukkah, in honour of my Jewish friends and my family in America. After all, is there a better excuse to be thankful and therefore happy?

Of course, looking out at views like this every day makes being grateful pretty easy most of the time

But having been in the country for a month, I was starting to feel the first pangs of homesickness for my friends and family back in the UK. Thanksgivukkah couldn't have come at a better time.

Celebrations started with brunch at the St Regis with Donna (one of the other Al Jazeera WAGs), her husband Gary and Gary's friend and colleague Colin. 

Now after New York, The Middle East puts on arguably some of the best brunch spreads in the world and is becoming a premier destination for the hallowed weekend repast. And Doha, never a country to be left behind when it comes to tradition has helped make the brunch a serious social and cultural institution.

This institution demands that you begin the day with a glass of champagne and a toast.

Before heading over to the tressle tables, heaving with goodies to pick what you want for your first course of many.

We went for seafood first: rich lobster, crab, big fat prawns, sushi...

And Donna and I braved an Oyster

Which we naturally LOVED!

Next came a full roast dinner with all the trimmings.

But the real highlight was PUDDING! Trays and trays of delicious sweet stuff and a huge chocolate fountain.

It's no surprise that there were cheesy grins all round.

All the time that this had been going on, the waiters had kept our champagne flutes well topped up, and Gary had done a stella job at making sure the table was well-stocked with beers and cocktails.

Following pudding, we continued to chat until we'd drunk the table dry. Suddenly, I looked up and realised that the whole place had emptied. We'd literally made the most of every single second of what this brunch could offer. That is gratitude right there for you folks!

Not quite ready for the day to end, we headed out to the terrace for one or two more.

And when Rich dropped by on his way home to pick me up, I think I was quite grateful to see him.

Yesterday, we continued the celebrations by having our friends - the gorgeous Nicky...

And Luke over for supper.

Despite accidentally serving up the saltiest plate of food known to man (sorry guys) and having to go scavenging for a bottle opener on an island which serves no alcohol, it was a very fun night. Rich (who will hereby be known as MLT) was so chilled in fact, that he didn't even use a coaster for the whole evening!!!!

He couldn't stop himself however, from grabbing the Dettol as soon as the door closed behind the guys at the end of the night...old habits die hard hey, MLT.

That evening, I also received the wonderful news that my best friend from school, Tania got engaged to the lovely Dan!

If all of this isn't something to be thankful for, then I don't know what is.

Happy belated Thanksgivukkah everyone!