Friday, November 27, 2009

The Best Thanksgiving

Perhaps my giving this Thanksgiving the 'best of all' rating might be viewed dimly considering how much I dislike the holiday. It's loaded with what I can't remember before my mother's death when I was twelve, what my father told me about those dinners which always involved some quarrel between my mother and my aunt over cooking. Over cooking? Over mashed potatoes? And it always ended with my uncle and father taking naps under the baby grand in my aunt's living room. But before that, my brother would have planted his big feet, leaned back in the dining chair which creaked, provoking Aunt Marion, to say, always, "Dickie, my chair. Oh, my chair," or something equivalent. Anyway, after my mother died, and I was left in the uncertain care of my father and his general, casual mismanagement and distain for most of everything, Thanksgiving became the beginning of a bad month.

But we had a terrific time yesterday. Really nice. For which I am extremely grateful. 

After I noticed that there was yet again dog shit on my shoe and went in to change them, and after Smith realized he wanted to wear something different, and after Krissy had washed all the vegetables and after we forgot a plate to put them on, but at least had the two bowls they had bought at the dollar store for the dip and then remembered that the wok was left behind, but we had Bogie and the little gifts Krissy had found for the six-year-old and a little something for the fifteen-year old, we were off. I was, of course, fearing that we'd miss the walk.

But we didn't. There was no traffic. Smith couldn't believe it. He's never seen anything like it in his five or six months on the east coast. 

I draggled behind with Bogie during the long walk around Fresh Pond which I have to say I'd take everyday if I lived near here. That would fix me, although it didn't and my leg hurt and Bogie wanted to sniff everything possible. But Smith was telling about their adventure since he put up a website for their new business of writing stories -- isn't your life story interesting? Don't you want it told and put on HBO? They have had three very curious adventures, one of which involved being flown to Palm Beach, or somewhere like that in Florida, staying at the Hyatt, good breakfasts included, to talk with a man who had a good story and carried two guns and they've met other folks, a bit of the same ilk, and, as M. said, "This should be a screen play." And I do think their adventures would make a good one. I've heard the stories before, but not told at a good clip in the soft, gray air of a warm late November day I couldn't keep up with it and looked at trees, the bare branches against the very pale sky. 

The food was fabulous. Everyone contributing. L. making the 'perfect' turkey and their daughter making two perfect apple pies. And everyone else bringing something or other, especially M. who makes a mold from a recipe his mother had given him, even though she probably now doesn't remember making it. He's carrying on that tradition which is both gorgeous and delicious. It serves as desert, really.

So, it was good food, good conversation. I particularly liked C's talking about her father's way of greeting the new year, going outside of the house just before midnight, coming backing just after it, turning on all the lights, opening all the faucets to bring in the good year. That he baked a special bread (her gestures made it seem as if it was flat) with a coin hidden in it. If the knife hit the coin when the bread was cut, that brought good fortune to everyone in the house. When things got better, she said, he put a gold coin into it. I want to hear more.

Of course, many of us had our cameras. And it was perfectly acceptable to photograph the food, the loaded plates, the lifted glasses, everyone talking and eating. K. put dibs on the remains of food on the plates, which those of us down at that end of he table knew meant he was going to make a small series about left-overs from this particular Thanksgiving. And put it on facebook, perhaps. It's so nice when this insanity of recording is so natural.

BUT THE BEST WAS CHARADES. I don't know whose idea this was. It got some immediate enthusiasm, but some groans. I've never played it before and I would usually groan, but I didn't bother to make a peep either way. The cat had profoundly got my tongue and I couldn't think of much to say, but that didn't mean I wasn't thoroughly enjoying myself.

And I loved the charades which involved endless gesturing, a bit of stamping around, a lot of laughing, some head thumping. I was out of the room when the beloved six-year-old did hers, unfortunately. But, A. who is fifteen did the most complicated, a book that our side couldn't even decide the correct title for....Origin of the Species or Origin of Species, probably not The Origin of the Species. There was, thank dog, an orange book on the mantle piece. (Yes, she was standing in front of the fire place.) And someone finally got origin and after that it was pretty easy for M. to come up with the name.

I even got up. No, I didn't get up. I found myself up there, unfolding a slip of paper with Little Miss Sunshine, movie, on it. I thought of pointing to Krissy who is on a diet of joy, and is intent on being cheerful, happy, having a good time, making the best of everything, being in the moment and making the moment good, but I started on little....and then got to third word, first syllable, sun....  It was easy from there.

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