Reasons to be Cheerful at Thanksgiving


While citizens of the United States celebrate thanksgiving this Thursday, the festivities are all but unknown in the rest of the world.

As my wife Lisa is American, it should be no surprise to anyone that my thoughts at this time of year tend to turn to thankfulness.

  • I am cheerful that the MS lesions in my brain and spine are currently inactive and that there are no signs of current inflammation.
  • I am cheerful that Lisa is my wife She is the love of my life, my lover, confidant, and my very best friend.
  • cheerfulI am cheerful to have enjoyed a career as a writer, about which I have a passion. Even today, when MS prevents me from going out to work, I am cheerful that I have the ability to write at home and to be able to use the internet as my method of publication.
  • I am cheerful for the support of members of the online community who continue to read my MS, Health and Disability blog at as well as for the owners and fellow writers who contribute to the various disease/disorder-specific news and information websites run by BioNews Services.
  • I am cheerful that Lisa and I moved to, and now live in, the sunny south of Spain.
  • I am cheerful for the ease with which we can communicate over such long distances in today’s computerized world. With friends and family in the UK and USA, as well as fellow writers and other contacts throughout the world, it is as though they are all just a couple of miles away.
  • I am cheerful for ease of travel and for the assistance available to people with disabilities when travelling by plane, ship, train, coach, bus, or taxi. Added to that, I am cheerful to have my folding electric wheelchair that makes such a huge difference to my life.
  • I am cheerful that I have been able to fulfil dreams that were once beyond the remotest of possibilities, such as sailing across the Atlantic, staying in New York City at Christmas-time, going to Hawaii, and visiting the Arctic circle. I am cheerful, too, that the opportunity remains to fulfil more dreams in the future.
  • I am cheerful to enjoy entertainment in whatever form it takes: films, TV, theatre, sport, music, ebooks, games or puzzles.
  • Finally, I am cheerful that I am alive and able to do what I can, when I can.

I may have MS but it does not have me, I refuse to let it!

Stay cheerful.

new strap

ian is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/didorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.


No Thanksgiving but plenty of fiestas


Thanksgiving in the USA is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November and commemorates the event that Americans commonly call the ‘First Thanksgiving’. This was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. This feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Native Americans, according to an account written by Edward Winslow, and 53 Pilgrims. 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.

Of course it is a particularly American tradition that is not followed in other countries outside North America but Thanksgiving Day prompted one of my nephews, Scott, to send a message to my blog site. He wrote: “I’m looking forward to visiting you both next year. Uncle could you do a piece on harvest festival, thanksgiving and what they may do in Spain. x.”

Spain being a predominantly Roman Catholic country, religious harvest festivals take place in the churches .

However, outside churches, the Spanish love a fiesta – take a look at these:

Throwing ripe tomatoes about may seem a bit strange but that is what happens at La Tomatina which has to be one of Spain’s craziest festivals. Ever since 1944, on the last Wednesday of August in Buñol, Valencia, between 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 pm, people take part in a tomato ‘war’ called the Tomatina.

September is a good month for celebrating various grape harvests, as well as the wine made with those crops. If you like sparkling wines and Cava, the nearest the Spanish get to creating a wine like Champagne, then you might enjoy a visit to Catalunya’s Cava week (see picture above).

Among the various Autumn festivals, there is the Jerez de la Frontera´s Fiestas de Otoño. Three weeks dedicated to sherry tasting, horses and flamenco. Also the Fiesta de San Mateo in Logroño (which is the heart of La Rioja, Spanish wine country) they celebrate the grape harvest with a big festival. Traditional Spanish party style at its best.

In September, the city of Barcelona celebrates its biggest fiesta, the Festes de la Merce. This is a huge festival with folkloric parades, fireworks, dragons and giants. This would be a great opportunity

As we get into October, things quieten down a bit. The month’s biggest day is Día de la Hispanidad This nationwide fiesta, though, has nothing to do with harvest. Instead it that commemorates Columbus’s landing in the Americas but not in the land that would eventually become the USA. Columbus never set foot there.



Thanksgiving: Delicious meal and more


argentine steak

Yesterday was the fourth Thursday in November which, as all Americans know, is the day they celebrate Thanksgiving; a federal holiday that commemorates the ‘first thanksgiving’.

One day during the fall (autumn) of 1621, four settlers were sent to hunt for food for a harvest celebration. The Wampanoag heard gunshots and alerted their leader, Massasoit, who thought the English might be preparing for war. Massasoit visited the English settlement with 90 of his men to see if the war rumour was true.

But it wasn’t and the Native Americans realized that the settlers were only hunting for the harvest celebration. Massasoit sent some of his own men to hunt deer for the feast and for three days, the English and native men, women, and children ate together. The meal consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat, far from today’s traditional Thanksgiving feast.

Being so far away from the land of her birth and now in Spain, Lisa was not ready to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner so I decided that we’d go out for a meal and, having made enquiries, we headed off to Garrucha. There we found an Argentine steak house serving both Angus and Hereford beef. For the benefit of any non-Brit readers, both these breeds of cattle – Angus and Hereford – although now bred in Argentina, are British and are renowned for providing top quality beef.

All meat is cooked over charcoal in the restaurant itself, not hidden in the kitchen. While we sipped sangria, we both opted for the special mixed grill which is a sharing dish for two people, comprising steak, spare ribs, chicken breasts and Argentine sausage, served with chips (fries to my American readers) and salad.

We both chose it to be cooked rare, which is exactly what we got. Cutting into the steak, I was absolutely delighted to see blood on my plate. That is just how a good steak should be.

We followed this with a dessert of traditional Spanish flan and, lastly, with cortado. This is an espresso cut with a small amount of warm milk. The word cortado is the past participle of the Spanish verb cortar, meaning ‘to cut’. In Spanish-speaking countries, a cortado is similar to the Italian caffè macchiato, where a small amount of warm milk is added to ‘cut’, literally ‘stain’, the espresso.

The whole meal was a delightful experience and, Lisa felt, a truly fitting celebration of Thanksgiving.

Before going inside the restaurant, we popped into a nearby electrical appliance store that had been recommended to us by a neighbour. There we placed orders for a washing machine that is being delivered and installed on Friday evening and a range cooker that is scheduled to arrive on Thursday evening next week.

The cooker in our new home really needed replacing and we thought it best to get a new one now and get it installed correctly right from the start.

Cat news: Prissy and Pooka have both ventured outside on Thursday and explored a ln the UK, Pooka had not gone outdoors for the last two years, so her ‘expedition’ was great to see.

New life, new home and new car

car house

Before I say anything else, Lisa and I would like to wish all Americans, especially members of our family, a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Well our first full day in our new Spanish home promised to be a busy one and so it was.

The man came about the gas cooker and said that it had been installed incorrectly and that he could fit it properly next week, In the meantime he has done a short-term fix meaning that we can use the cooker. Looks like a fairly expensive fix, about 120€ or about £85. Still it is much better to get it sorted and be safe.

Two other major events happened on Wednesday. Firstly, money I had sent to Spain via Currencies Direct arrived in our new bank account here and we finally collected our car – a lovely dark maroon Chrysler Voyager. This is a seven seater, which might seem surplus to our requirements as there are only the two of us but the middle two seats, by the sliding side doors, can be removed. This means that, with the aid of a ramp, we can easily get my new power wheelchair in and out of the vehicle. Perfect.

To be honest, this was just the type of vehicle that I really wanted. Lisa and I had previously looked at many cars on the internet and this was right up there in my favourites. To find it so relatively close to us was just the icing on the cake.

Actually our trip to the bank and car dealer would not have been possible without the generous help of our neighbour two houses away. Knowing of my disability with MS, Jenny was happy to take us to both places and even stayed with us until we could drive away; she did not want us stranded there if anything went wrong.

Chatting away on the way there, we happened to mention that we needed to buy clothes hangers. This prompted her to say that she had just that morning put some aside for disposal and when we got back, having stopped to fill up with petrol, we found a pile of hangers by our door. We still need to buy some but nowhere near as many as we first thought.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that when I offered to pay for the petrol she had used, Jenny would not hear of it and sweetly refused to accept any such payment. I’ll pay that forward one day by doing someone else a good turn like that.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is another sunny day with a high of 68˚F/20˚C, with similar sunny times for the next four days at least. The good weather Is supposed to continue into the beginning of December; it will be interesting to see how it goes as the month develops.

As far as my health goes, the warmth already seems to be providing me with some benefit. I had a very good start this morning but paid for it in the late afternoon as MS played havoc with my balance. Still, I got through that and tomorrow, as the saying goes, is another day.

Actually, I cannot wait.