Thursday, November 27, 2014

Some thoughts on Thanksgiving 2014

I have had so many memorable Thanksgiving Days. So many. 

Before I met Stefan, and since leaving Henderson, Kentucky, I’ve spent only one Thanksgiving by myself - otherwise, I’ve always gotten invitations. It’s hard to pick the most memorable Thanksgiving. There's the one with my colleague and her entire Mexican American Family in San Jose, California, where her girlfriend was welcomed, but her brother, and his boyfriend, were not. Or the horrible one with an ex-boyfriend’s friend’s racist family in Austin, Texas, just after I'd moved there. Or the one I prepared for my French colleagues in Germany, where I made homemade stuffing for the first and only time in my life (they loved it). Or the one with a co-worker, when her husband presented the turkey on the table, skinless, and she and I staged open rebellion, demanding said skin for immediate devouring, which we did, as he told us again and again how unhealthy it was. Or the one where a co-worker and her then-boyfriend (now husband) and I gorged ourselves while watching Prick Up Your Ears and The Lion in Winter, the latter of which should be shown every Thanksgiving on TCM, truly. Or the one with Sharron Rush’s delightful family in Texas. Or the one at Carrie’s. Or the one at Lis’s. I could go on and on…

I once spent Thanksgiving with Anne Marino, hosted at the house of her sister’s husband’s sister. Anne has been on my mind a lot lately. I miss her terribly. Even as she faced death, she remained graceful, Bohemian, sassy - ANNE. As I sat with her that last time, I was angry at myself for not making more of an effort to get to the San Francisco Bay area since I moved back to the USA - and I vowed I would stop hesitating about traveling in the USA. I don’t have a lot of money, but I have enough to make traveling to visit certain friends and family a priority. I said “yes” this year way more than I said “no” regarding travel this year, and I’m so glad I did. And every time, I think of Anne.  

At some point in my 20s or so - I'm not sure when - Thanksgiving in my family started being hosted at my Aunt Charla's house. I didn't spend many Thanksgivings there, as I moved away from Kentucky when I was 22, but I so appreciated that my paternal grandmother was always invited - my Aunt is my mom's sister, but like me, she has big ideas about what "family" is. Either that, or they really did invite Mamaw only because of her awesome creamed corn. 

Thanksgiving is a difficult holiday for me now, because in 1995, my Dad called me and suggested he fly out to California and spend it with me. And though I would have really liked that, and said so, over and over again, I’d already made plans to be in So Cal for Thanksgiving. It was the last time I talked to him. What I didn’t know was that it was a part of his goodbye tour - he’d wanted to come to say goodbye before he killed himself the following February. Thanksgiving has never been quite the same for me since then. It’s still my favorite holiday, but I always remember that phone call, a mix of love and manipulation. 

There’s so much I’m grateful for this year, but I’ll save that for my blog just before New Year’s Eve. I will say that I’m grateful for my friends and family - clichéd as it sounds, they are awesome and I celebrate them all in my life, more than they know. I'm particularly grateful for the relationship I have with my sister - I was afraid, after Mamaw died, I'd feel less a part of the family. She's ensured that never happens. 

Thanksgiving is about food and being together - no presents, no shopping, just being together, with people, whether family, close friends, or just people you think need somewhere to go today. And that's why I love it. It's the ultimate Humanist Holiday. Have a happy day.

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