Cutaway shot to the Sixties, when I was a baby and my parents lived on Long Island, sharing Thanksgiving with a friend of my dad’s, then with him and his bride and her family, every year. Don't you know, things changed: I got a brother, this couple had a little girl, and my family moved to Massachusetts. Even with the long drive, we continued to alternate feasts between Long Island and Cape Cod.
Forty-ish years later, Veronica still lives on Long Island and I in Massachusetts; my brother lives in Oregon. Given our families’ history, Veronica travels here every other year with her parents, aunt, husband and children. (Have to confess, I alternate between my in-laws and my parents.) In spite of new traditions, my childhood Thanksgivings bring back the fondest memories:
Juice glasses bought with Green Stamps. Kind embraces by once-a-year family. Long tables covered with food in narrow rooms that barely hold us all. More food spilling off counters and chairs in the kitchen. Noon: Alice’s Restaurant on the radio. Olives, preferably Lindsay medium or large. Pumpkin pie made by Veronica’s grandfather, the recipe lost with him and his wife.
Quick walks around the block before dessert, freezing our fingers and toes. Recitals that were blessedly brief with Veronica on flute, I think, and my brother on flute with me on piano. Seafoam salad, a Fifties throwback of lime jello and cream cheese with pineapple, that my mom is required to make still. Turkey, of course, with my dad cooking up innards to munch on and using the neck for the gravy after he wrestled the bird into the oven. Up too late, parents chatting at the table. Veronica’s parents and aunt talking local, state and national politics with devotion.
Wizard of Oz airing every Thanksgiving evening. Xanthous (yellowish, yes I looked it up) sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. Yelps from their dog, usually a Dalmation, pulling at his leash, and one year, wearing Veronica’s dad’s glasses as we waited for the meal to be served. Zesty fresh cranberry relish, served once in a plastic tub identical to the tub my family used for compost, causing a brief pause in enthusiasm, then laughter.
Wherever you are, whatever your traditions and memories, a very happy Thanksgiving. I’ll be at my parents’ house with Veronica’s clan. If you read this, Paul, we’ll miss you. Last, thank you, Lisa, for the inspiration from Monday's post.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007