(Centre) L-R: US Ambassador Tom Barrett; Minister Yuriko Backes; Paul Schonenberg, AMCHAM Chairman; Credit: Chronicle.lu

On Friday 25 November 2022, the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in Luxembourg held their traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the Cercle Cité in Luxembourg city centre.

This year the event was held as a black tie Gala Dinner and the 270-capacity event had been sold out for a number of weeks. Apart from members and guests of members, attendees also included representatives of various government ministries, ambassadors and from the financial and industrial sectors.

After the pre-dinner cocktail in the first-floor bar foyer, which also featured an ice-cream counter those attending took their seats in the Grande Salle in the majestic venue with its imposing architecture and splendid decor.

Paul Schonenberg, AMCHAM Chairman, welcomed everyone and referred to the cost of tickets and the cost of the venue, and acknowledged the support of sponsors and corporates who had booked entire tables. He acknowledged the red roses as the centrepieces on each table which matched the colour scheme of the venue. He mentioned the meal to come, the tombola, dancing and networking. And he was proud of how AMCHAM's staff had organised the event in such a prestigious venue - in previous years, hotels with large function rooms have been chosen.

Guest speaker Yuriko Backes, Luxembourg's Minister of Finance, referred to last year's Thanksgiving Dinner which she attended and at which her predecessor, Pierre Gramegna, was elected today as Chairman of the ESM. She delivered a fluid, light-hearted speech and referred to the close economic ties between the US and Luxembourg, including American banks which led the way. She mentioned that, since Brexit, there are more American companies moving to Luxembourg, including in the insurance sector. She referred to having three times visited the US this year, including to the World Bank in Washington DC. She mentioned too that she visited the home state of the current US Ambassador to Luxembourg, Tom Barrett, where she was impressed with the number of Luxembourg descendants living with proud connections to the Grand Duchy. And she recalled the start of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1903.

She ended by stating that the two countries are natural allies, including concerning the current war in Ukraine, stressing that we need to stand strong together. Regarding China, she stressed that maintaining dialogue with countries sitting in the fence regarding the current war is very important. In that context she also mentioned protecting free trade as well as climate policies, all the time stressing the trans-Atlantic relationship. She concluded by referencing Thanksgiving and gave thanks for what we have in Luxembourg, including social indexation (which raised a cheer from those attending).

Paul Schonenberg responded to some of the issues addressed by Minister Backes and mentioned his home state of New York, comparing Luxembourg to be a slightly smaller version of New York. 50% of New Yorkers are foreign (like Luxembourg); both countries have many things in common, including being founding members of NATO.

The US Ambassador to Luxembourg, Tom Barrett, addressed those attending and acknowledged Yukriko Backes as the first female minister of finance for Luxembourg. As this was his first Thanksgiving spent away from home, he recalled watching football matches, eating large meals and talking with relatives. He stressed that family and friends are the most important to us. He said that Americans and those in Luxembourg have a lot to he thankful for. He recalled the Battle of the Bulge and his mother's first husband who lost his life just six months after they married. He mentioned that what is happening currently in Ukraine has parallels with history. He mentioned the Marshall Plan and the rebuilding of Europe after WWII, as well as respecting important values at Thanksgiving. He hopes that we can make our strong bonds create a stronger future for Luxembourg, for the United States and for the world.

A traditional Thanksgiving meal was served, with pumpkin soup as the starter, followed by a main course of turkey and a mixed dessert; seconds were readily available.

During the meal, those attending were treated to the music and singing of Marco Boesen & Co, mainly easy-listening music during the meal and more up-tempo tunes to dance the night away... But before the dancing got underway, AMCHAM's Daniel McKenzie led the tombola for which each attendee was given one ticket upon arrival: the prizes from 27 different sponsors (over 50 prizes in total) included vouchers for €1,000 worth of house cleaning, return flights to Istanbul, fondue meals, massages, luggage sets, visits to the European Space Centre, gourmet meals, sets of champagne glasses and espresso cups, restaurant meals, magazine subscriptions, football match tickets including travel and accommodation, hot air balloon rides, gold bracelets, flight tickets, whisky glasses and flights over the Grand Duchy in a light aircraft piloted by the Czech Ambassador to Luxembourg.

The winners of the tombola prizes were certainly very thankful for their winnings, no doubt unaware of the months of work behind the scenes that went on by AMCHAM personnel to create such a wonderful evening.