In preparation for a Thanksgiving-related service at my church today, I was asked to prepare 200 words to share. At first I thought the topic was “My first Thanksgiving as an immigrant”. After I submitted that, I learned that the topic was actually “Coming to America”. So I wrote a second piece on that. Here are both items.
Coming to America
Others have stories of family lore, set in dramatic political times either in historic past or in modern wars and other hardships. Mine is not that exciting.
I was 30 years old, recently divorced, and feeling in a rut at my work. I told my boss that I would be leaving within the next year, once I figured out where to go, and when I figured it out he would have two weeks notice, so he should start thinking about my replacement. He said “I know you are divorced
and had to buy your own house, so money is tight. You need a vacation that you can’t afford, so I will figure out a way for the company to pay for a vacation.”
So he sent me on a business trip that had me spend a week in Santa Barbara, a couple of nights in Laguna Beach, and then a week of technical work in Lowell, Massachussetts. I loved Santa Barbara, and on my last day I asked if there were any openings at the company I was visiting. “Give us a call after you have
given notice”, said the CEO. That was the week before Easter 1980. 6 months later I moved here. 5 years after that, I bought the house we live in now, and within three years after that I was married again and had a daughter.
What a lucky break to come here for my first visit!
My First Thanksgiving
I arrived in Santa Barbara in middle of October 1980.
I had barely gotten settled in at work and in my apartment on San Pascual Street when I was approached by a co-worker who asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving, and would I care to join his family in Solvang. I had no real idea what that was about, but I said yes, and he gave me directions to a ranch on Alamo Pintado Road in Solvang. He impressed on me the need to fill up the gas tank of my car the night before because the gas stations would be closed.
It was very impressive; there were about 30 people gathered and I met a bunch of people, that became a local Danish family for me for the next few years. In particular, I liked Alice, a bright, somewhat recent divorcee living in Palo Alto who invited me to follow her to her parents house and hang out for the evening watching old movies on the TV and eating ice cream. We were friends for years after that. I would visit her in Palo Alto a couple of times a year, and she would show me around the Bay area. After she moved to Santa Barbara, she married my boss.