Being Thankful

The London Matryoshka Haus community gathered together recently to celebrate Thanksgiving. Shannon brought this American tradition with her from the US and it has become a wonderful, looked-forward-to part of our community calendar. I don’t know if we do it right, but we have turkey and stuffing and wine and lots of good company. We eat together, we drink together, we laugh together and we are thankful, together.

This year has been a tough year for many of the Matryoshka Haus family. Shannon, Andy, Thomasin and myself have all been homeless. Shannon’s father died. Rachel N’s business failed. There has been sickness and heartache and a lot of bad or lost jobs and underemployment. People’s hopes have failed to come to fruition and… well, y’know, sometimes life just seems a little tough. I know there have been plenty of times when we have got together and it felt like everyone round the table was having a bad week. And for good reason.

But however hard things might have been we found plenty to be thankful for that weekend. We were thankful for each other, for the genuine loving support that there is round that table, like no other group of people I know. We were thankful for places of shelter and hospitality that restore us: Helen & Cathers’ offering space for Sam; Sue and Iain making a healing home for Shannon in Chichester; my own journey from home to home receiving generosity and a welcome embrace again and again.

We were thankful for Holly’s arrival at Sweet Notions; for Becca becoming an integral part of the TI team. For Rachel J (currently) buying a home close by; for Jo getting a home of her own after many years. For Cathers’ job with Made in Marylebone and for the Design Camps being so successful that they are no longer needed.

We are thankful for new members of the community: for Phil & Sarah, Naomi and Nills. For every new friend. For every successful meeting. We are thankful for the many new ties across the Atlantic between American friends and Brits. We are thankful for those who want to join us here, especially for Carl and Regina and their family who hope to be part of the London family by next Thanksgiving.

If there is any symbol of hope and joy in our community, if there is any one thing that we can all agree with are overwhelmingly thankful for, it is for Jacob. At our Thanksgiving gathering last year he was barely a week old and only 2 days out of the hospital. He captured our hearts that day and has held them very soundly ever since.

Jacob at 11 months old

Jacob is the most good-natured baby I have ever met. He genuinely loves everyone he meets and warms to new people quickly. He has a winning smile and a marvellously dirty chuckle. In short, he is the perfect embodiment of what our community hopes to be to each other, and what we hope Matryoshka Haus can be to the world.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Giving Thanks

We intended this to be a ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ message on Thursday. Sadly, our server went down the night before, and it took a little while to get it back up and running…

In London, five days before ‘official’ Thanksgiving, the Matryoshka Haus community gathered for its annual celebration of giving thanks. While it might seem strange for a British group to celebrate an American holiday, this regular opportunity to be thankful for what we have is a special time for many of us.

Our community is at its strongest when it is gathered around a table. To manage this within a restricted space, our Thanksgiving meal took place in the garden, with candlelight, coats and scarves. We made time to remember the difficulties our community has faced over the last year, and to celebrate the many things we were thankful for. Lanterns were lit in honour of what we were grateful for, looking beautiful as they floated away into the London sky.

Thankful light

We are grateful for so many things – the blessing of new relationships, homes, jobs, health and new life – especially in the face of many struggles. Nothing represented our thankfulness better than a small person whose arrival was greeted with (actual) screams of delight. Jacob, who turns one this week, was just days old at last year’s Thanksgiving. We as a community are now rejoicing with his parents in the blessings that a year of his life has provided.

We pray that you will be blessed this Thanksgiving weekend and that the coming year will be filled with even more reasons to be thankful.

Faces lit by the glowing lanters

Date for your diary…

There’s nothing better than a quirky night out, especially one that involves music, competitiveness and prizes – Sweet Notions’ forthcoming Musical Bingo night is just that.

Musical Bingo? It’s like bingo, only with songs instead of numbers and prizes instead of money.

Why are Sweet Notions holding this event? Basically, it’s a way of marking the transition of the Design Camps at the Marylebone Project from Sweet Notions to running under their own steam. The night will raise money for the Marylebone Project – which exists to help women affected by homelessness – so it’s for an excellent cause.

So, if you’re free on Thursday November 22nd, come join us!