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A British guy crashed her Thanksgiving dinner. They’ve been married for 20 years

(CNN) — It was November 1997 and Dina Honour was internet hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the primary time. The then 27-year-old had invited a gaggle of New York City mates who, like her, had determined to remain within the metropolis over the vacations.

It has been a troublesome 12 months for Honour. She’d been affected by melancholy after a foul relationship.

“I had slowly found my way back to a sense of normal, and was not looking for love,” Honour tells CNN Travel in the present day.

Instead, Honour was specializing in internet hosting her mates for the vacation. She’d arrange a eating desk within the two-bed house she shared with a roommate in Brooklyn. Her sister had traveled over from Boston. She’d busied herself all morning mashing potato and roasting turkey.

She’d requested every visitor to carry alongside one thing to contribute to the unfold. Soon her mates began to trickle in, bearing vacation tidings, holding cornbread, pies and cranberry sauce.

Then Honour opened the door to at least one pal, solely to comprehend he had two thriller friends in tow.

It wasn’t the form of gathering the place shock plus-ones had been welcome.

“I was not happy,” remembers Honour. “But then I got a look at him. And I said ‘Okay.'”

“Him” was Richard Steggall, a 25-year-old Brit on trip in New York for the primary time. He’d traveled to the US with a superb pal who had a brother dwelling in NYC. This brother was a pal of Honour’s and had been invited to her occasion.

“I didn’t know what Thanksgiving was at the time, to be honest, I had no idea,” says Steggall in the present day. “Growing up in the UK, I was vaguely aware, but I had no idea of the significance of the holiday whatsoever.”

Steggall and his mates had spent their trip absorbing New York, going out clubbing within the evenings and exploring the sights within the daytime.

The morning of November 27, they’d woken up late, having been out the evening earlier than. They had been wanting for someplace to get a chew to eat.

The American of their group defined it was a nationwide vacation, and most eating places can be closed.

“But I know of a party going on where they might have some food,” he’d stated.

“That’s how he pitched it to us,” remembers Steggall. “We had no idea it was going be a semi-formal Thanksgiving dinner, much like Christmas would be in the UK.”

Steggall had his first inkling that turning up uninvited was a little bit of a fake pas when he noticed Honour’s expression when she opened her house door.

But he was additionally immediately captivated.

“From the start, I was entranced by Dina,” he says in the present day.

The feeling was mutual. Honour’s frustration on the surprising friends was shortly tempered by her on the spot attraction to Steggall.

“I thought he was very, very handsome,” she says. “You can’t make it up, right? The tall dark stranger who comes to your door on Thanksgiving.”

She led the interlopers into the house. Steggall and his fellow Brit, feeling awkward, tried to make themselves as unobtrusive as attainable.

“The other uninvited guest and myself sort of hid in the corner for a little bit, just trying to keep a low profile,” says Steggall.

From his spot within the nook, Steggall watched Honour circulating the room.

“I thought she was beautiful. To me, coming from London, she was this New York woman,” he says. “She was strong, confident, sort of loud, but funny — just exuding life. And I was just smitten from the start.”

Steggall requested a couple of of the friends about Honour, however he did not converse to her instantly — he did not wish to disturb the hostess he’d already offended by turning up within the first place.

Bonding over pumpkin pie

As dessert rolled round, Honour approached Steggall with a slice of pumpkin pie and whipped cream — a quintessential Thanksgiving dessert that is removed from frequent within the UK.

Steggall had by no means tried it earlier than, and readily accepted.

The two began speaking. Honour, who loves literature, dropped a reference to Shakespeare’s Ophelia into the dialog. Steggall picked up on it — he knew “Hamlet,” he stated.

“It was like a little light came on,” says Honour. “Not many guys you meet at a party — in between beer and pumpkin pie — are going to be happy to have a conversation about ‘Hamlet.'”

The two spent the remainder of the evening speaking, putting up a fast bond.

“I think we had so much in common in our outlook on life, and the things that were important to us as people and human beings, and the way that we view the world, and the things that we wanted from life,” says Steggall.

“You can’t make it up, right? The tall dark stranger who comes to your door on Thanksgiving.”

Dina Honour

After they’d completed up dinner, the group went out to a bar. There, Honour and Steggall had been so centered on each other that Honour remembers her sister, who’d traveled all the way in which from Boston for the gathering, being a bit irritated.

“We sat at the bar on bar stools facing one another, and kind of ignored everybody else,” she says. “We spent all night talking, all day the next day.”

Friday afternoon Steggall was attributable to fly again to London.

Honour accompanied him to the subway station and so they stated goodbye on the platform.

As the doorways closed on the practice, Honour remembers feeling a way of certainty.

“It was really something intuitive and instinctive,” she says now.

Back at her house, Honour confided in her sister:

“That’s the man I’m going to marry.”

Falling in love over the cellphone

Steggall and Honour say their connection was instant.

Steggall and Honour say their connection was on the spot.

Courtesy Dina Honour

When he’d traveled to New York, Steggall had been seeing somebody again in London. The very first thing he did when he landed again within the UK was name that off.

“I didn’t quite know what was going to happen,” he says, “But I felt it was the right thing to do.”

The subsequent day, Honour known as him from New York.

And so started a month of day by day, long-distance cellphone conversations, and the occasional letter despatched throughout the Atlantic.

“We had a sort of old-fashioned courtship over the phone,” says Honour.

She was working in its place trainer on the time, and would cellphone Steggall from the college break room.

Steggall was working as a flower and Christmas tree vendor in Chelsea, London, often DJing within the night. He’d converse to Honour when he bought again from an extended work-day, or earlier than heading out to a membership.

It was mid-December when Steggall recommended it.

“Listen,” stated Steggall. “Why don’t you come over to London for Christmas?”

“I don’t know. It’s a lot. It’s Christmas. I didn’t spend Thanksgiving with my family. I should spend Christmas with them,” Honour remembers pondering.

She was additionally hesitant to place her coronary heart on her line. She’d had that troublesome break up earlier within the 12 months and had simply bought herself again to a spot of contentment.

But ringing round her head was the thought that she ought to seize this second.

“I don’t want to regret not doing this,” she remembers pondering. “If this is the chance, I don’t want to miss out on it.”

One chilly December day, she went to a journey agent and walked out holding a aircraft ticket to London in her arms.

“It was a commitment, a tangible thing,” she says. “I think I was willing to take a chance, hoping that it went well, but also knowing that if it didn’t, it wasn’t going to be the end of my world.”

Honour says that feeling that she’d be okay no matter occurred got here from the sense of self that she’d labored laborious to domesticate after her robust 12 months. She was assured within the reference to Steggall, but in addition assured in herself.

Her family and friends had been “cautiously optimistic” she says. They supported her resolution, and hoped her religion in Steggall would show properly based.

A Christmas reunion

Honour flew from New York to London on Christmas Day. At Heathrow Airport arrivals, Steggall was ready for her. It was 9 p.m. at evening, and he was holding a bouquet of his Chelsea flowers.

Steggall had advised his family and friends that he’d met somebody whereas on trip in New York. But he hadn’t had a lot time to share many particulars about this burgeoning connection.

“It all happened so quickly between November and December — and with working selling flowers and selling Christmas trees, the whole of the end of November, and the whole of December, it’s full-on, it’s sort of 20-hour days.”

In the UK, December 26 is named Boxing Day and can also be a nationwide vacation. On Boxing Day morning, Steggall and Honour traveled collectively to his guardian’s home.

“It’s a tradition in our family to have a sort of a Champagne brunch with smoked salmon, and so all of the family’s sitting around the table having a drink of Champagne and in comes Dina and I,” remembers Steggall.

He launched her to his household, then excused himself momentarily. When he returned, Honour was “holding court,” ingesting and chatting along with his household.

“I left her in the room with my mum and dad and my uncle and aunt and my sister and they got on famously,” says Steggall.

“They were all incredibly nice,” says Honour.

“My parents were so happy that I had met someone, and it was clearly love from the start — and I think they will tell you that they could completely see a change in me, and see how happy I was,” says Steggall.

Later that day, Steggall shocked Honour with a aircraft ticket. The two had been going to fly to the island of Majorca in Spain with a few of Steggall’s mates for New Year’s Eve.

It was an amazing journey, says Honour, even when she needed to negotiate a little bit of curious grilling from her new boyfriend’s mates.

When the festive interval was over, she needed to return to the US. But Steggall booked a spontaneous New York weekend in the direction of the tip of January 1998, whereas Honour flew to London for Valentine’s Day.

For that vacation, the couple employed a sports activities automobile and stayed in a swanky lodge in Richmond, west London.

“This was all out of our comfort zone at the time, but we tried to sort of recreate this romantic weekend,” says Steggall.

He’d purchased a swimsuit and pair of good footwear for the primary time, and remembers almost falling down the steps on the lodge as a result of the footwear weren’t worn in correctly.

Moving to New York

Then in spring 1998, Steggall packed up his job on the flower market and traveled to New York for three months, desiring to spend the summer time with Honour.

It wasn’t purported to be everlasting, however wanting again, he reckons his family and friends knew higher.

“The goodbyes that we had, and some of the parties that were thrown, had a more air of finality about it than it’s just a three-month thing — it was really a sending off for a new life.”

Still, Steggall arrived with solely a inexperienced duffel bag of garments. He moved into Honour’s house, the identical one he’d turned up at, uninvited, the earlier Thanksgiving.

They spent the new days of summer time collectively, exploring town, wandering round Central Park and the East Village, cementing their certainty that they wished to be collectively long run.

While they felt marriage may very well be of their future, the couple say they did not wish to get married at that time, even when it may have been a approach to make sure Steggall may keep within the US.

“I think we were both really clear that, ‘Yes, we want you to say, and we’ll figure out a way to do that, and yes, maybe down the road, there will be marriage.’ But those two things were very separate, I think for both of us,” says Honour.

So Steggall began wanting for jobs that got here with a visa, and ended up with a task on the United Nations.

“When you tell the story to people, and they can’t quite believe that it’s true — they think you’re some spy working for the UN or something,” jokes Steggall.

It was a tremendous alternative career-wise. Steggall and Honour began to calm down collectively correctly in New York.

A New Year’s Eve proposal

The couple got engaged at a New Year's Eve party in 1999. This photo was taken right after Steggall asked her to marry him as the clock struck midnight.

The couple bought engaged at a New Year’s Eve occasion in 1999. This photograph was taken proper after Steggall requested her to marry him because the clock struck midnight.

Courtesy Dina Honour

The couple’s story had began on Thanksgiving and continued at Christmas. And on New Year’s Eve 1999, the 2 began a brand new chapter collectively when Steggall proposed on the introduction of the brand new millennium.

The couple recall watching the fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour on CNN that morning. Honour was marveling on the show, however Steggall was quiet with nerves.

“I was sitting there, really nervous and grumpy. And Dina’s like, ‘What’s the matter with you, it’s New Year’s Eve, and it’s the millennium?'” says Steggall, laughing.

That night, they headed to a pal’s occasion in a high-rise house looking over town. By this level, Steggall’s nerves had been even worse.

“I was struggling to hold it together a little bit, I had started telling people,” he says. “I shared it with a couple of people, who were so excited.”

More mates came upon when Steggall didn’t open a bottle of Champagne as a result of his arms had been shaking a lot.

He handed it to another person and pushed by the group to search out Honour. As the clock struck midnight, he requested her to marry him.

“I believe I accidentally kicked him in the shin in excitement,” she says.

The couple got married in April 2001 at a venue called the Manhattan Penthouse on Fifth Avenue, overlooking the New York skyline.

The couple bought married in April 2001 at a venue known as the Manhattan Penthouse on Fifth Avenue, overlooking the New York skyline.

Courtesy Dina Honour

The couple had been married in April 2001 in New York, at a venue known as the Manhattan Penthouse on Fifth Avenue. Their British family and friends stayed within the glamorous accommodations surrounding Union Square.

“We wanted to give our friends and family who were coming in — especially from London, but also from where I grew up, near Boston — a real New York experience, so we chose a place on the top floor, windows on all sides,” says Honour.

Guests admired views of the Empire State Building as they toasted the couple’s future.

Afterwards, Honour and Steggall employed limos to ship friends on their approach. Some went to bars on Union Square, or loved nightcaps at their accommodations.

“There are all sorts of stories of where people ended up,” says Steggall. “My father was last seen in a limousine — I’m not sure if this is real, but it’s become real — standing up out of the sunroof, pointing up town, as the limo went up Broadway. I think it’s probably an urban myth, but it’s become part of our family legend.”

A new chapter in Europe

The couple lived in New York City together for ten years, welcoming two sons there. Here they are with their oldest child in 2004.

The couple lived in New York City collectively for ten years, welcoming two sons there. Here they’re with their oldest little one in 2004.

Courtesy Dina Honour

Following an “amazing” honeymoon in Australia, Steggall and Honour continued to get pleasure from life in New York, later welcoming two sons.

And in 2008, their life took a brand new flip when the household moved to Nicosia, Cyprus, for Steggall’s UN work.

When the chance arose to relocate, the couple had been beginning to really feel they’d outgrown their New York house. Steggall, who’d at all times had a little bit of wanderlust, was itching for a brand new journey.

Still, the choice to up sticks to Cyprus wasn’t a straightforward one. Their youngest son was solely six months previous on the time. Plus, Honour says she’s the extra risk-averse of the 2, and she or he wasn’t positive at first. But after an extended dialog, the couple determined to go for it.

“We decided that the pros outweighed the cons,” says Honour.

Steggall and Honour moved to Cyprus with their family and later Copenhagen, pictured here.

Steggall and Honour moved to Cyprus with their household and later Copenhagen, pictured right here.

Courtesy Dina Honour

In Nicosia, the couple struggled with a little bit of tradition shock at first, however ultimately made good mates, embracing the Mediterranean life-style, happy their youngsters had been rising up amongst stunning surroundings and sunshine.

“I think it changed our mindset a lot about what kind of life we could have,” says Steggall.

So a lot so, that as a substitute of returning to New York City as they’d at all times assumed they’d, the household later relocated to Copenhagen.

Fast ahead to 2021 and Steggall and Honour are nonetheless primarily based in Denmark. Their youngsters are 17 and 13, and may be New Yorkers by start, however they’ve been introduced up throughout Europe, and like to journey.

Thanksgiving traditions

Thanksgiving remains an important holiday for Steggall and Honour.

Thanksgiving stays an necessary vacation for Steggall and Honour.

Courtesy Dina Honour

It’s over 10 years since Steggall and Honour final lived within the US, however Thanksgiving stays an necessary date for the couple — the vacation introduced them collectively, in any case.

“The kids know the story, it’s become part of our family lore,” says Honour.

“It’s always a date in the calendar where we start to reflect on our lives and what’s happened and everything, the whole story from start to finish,” says Steggall.

Steggall provides that in his first few years of dwelling within the US, Thanksgiving shortly grew to become his favourite American vacation.

“It was magical because you would go and you would have this fantastic meal, you’d spend time with family and then the next day you would just sit in your sweatpants watching TV, everybody just together relaxing,” he remembers.

Here's Honour and Steggall with their two teenage sons earlier in 2021.

Here’s Honour and Steggall with their two teenage sons earlier in 2021.

Courtesy Dina Honour

When Steggall and Honour first moved to Cyprus, they tried to recreate conventional US Thanksgiving traditions. But as they’ve settled into life in Europe, they’ve began celebrating the vacation in numerous methods.

This 12 months, in Copenhagen, they went out for dinner as a household and mirrored on what they’re grateful for.

And one thing Steggall and Honour might be perpetually grateful for is their likelihood assembly, connection and years of conversations.

“We still spend hours and hours and hours talking,” says Honour.

“Dina offering me that pumpkin pie was the start of that conversation, which has now been going on for 24 years,” says Steggall.

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