One of the holidays I’ve really come to enjoy over the years has been Thanksgiving. It’s also perhaps the one that has varied the most in my life. One of my earliest memories of it was when my parents were still married (I believe) and spending part of the afternoon playing some tag football with some friends the next street over in Falls Village. (Part of the reason that day was so memorable was the inadvertent discovery of some dog crap after sliding through it!)
After my parents divorced, typically my father and I would go to my paternal grandmother’s house in New Haven and then go out to dinner. She never cooked, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that her kitchen was rather cramped. I recall one year having to shovel out her driveway so we could get back out. Her house was a converted carriage barn at the bottom of a hill in the Westville part of New Haven.
We did this tradition for as long as she lived. But once she passed I decided to take up the tradition by doing it, first at our apartment in Troy, and then later our house. Over the years various friends and members of the family have joined us.
While in college, I also did a few early-bird Thanksgivings with a couple of the groups I was involved with. One literally was an “early-bird” where it turns out the students responsible for cooking one of the two turkeys didn’t thaw it first and brought it to the event in a half-raw state. Fortunately my mom caught it in time, mentioned it to Dean Dave and we sidelined that turkey! Thankfully the second turkey was properly cooked and we could enjoy that and the other sides and desserts, including the apple pie I brought.
At some point my dad, who was never much of a cook himself, but enjoyed spending time with his family, suggested we start rotating it from year to year. He went so far as to buy a gas stove (haven gotten rid of the wood-fired kitchen stove well over a decade previously) just to have a place to cook the turkey. I suspect it’s the only time of the year the stove got use. Part of the tradition while driving there, at least for me, included tuning the radio until I could find at least one station that was playing Alice’s Restaurant (that’s the name of the song, not the restaurant of course). One year, we even took a very slight detour and took some photos of the family standing outside of a particular former church in West Stockbridge. (I should note, somewhere in the dirt bike race scene my father has me nestled in his CPO jacket while he’s standing next to my mom. Both were extras, as I suppose was I.)
We also would then on the third year, go to his half-sister’s house outside of Boston where she would host. One one hand I missed hosting every year, on the other hand it gave me a chance to enjoy someone else’s efforts. Unfortunately, this tri-yearly rotation did not last overly long. I think we got in two dinners at my father’s before 2015 when he passed away.
Since then, while we’ve enjoyed a few thanksgivings at my Aunt’s, both last year and this year have conspired to prevent us from gathering with here. Last year it was strictly due to Covid and this year, to other health issues. It’s frustrating as we’d love to see her again.
So, on Thanksgiving, I will miss my father and my aunt. But both kids are home from college, my mother will be joining us (since her mother passed several years ago, she’s started doing Thanksgiving at our house when it’s held here) and perhaps a few others.
I’ll watch the Macy’s parade while preparing the turkey and fixings and catch part of the Great American Dog Show.
We’ll go around the table before digging in and each give thanks for something in the last year. I think it’ll be easier this year than last year when the days were darker, not only because of the angle of the Sun, but also the general temper of the year.
And then, at some point, later that evening, probably around 8:00 PM, I’ll go to the fridge, carve off some leftover turkey, grab some mayonnaise, a dash of salt and bread and make myself a turkey sandwich.
No matter where you are, or who you are with, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. And here’s looking forward to 2022.