November 27, 2009, the day after Thanksgiving, is a gray, rainy, raw day. The kind of day best spent in bed reading and napping. But I am feeling nostalgic, thinking back to Thanksgivings of my past. The food, the families, the laughter and tears, all those faces hovering over heaping mounds of stuffing, potatoes and turkey slices. Too many of those faces are gone now and those that remain have gotten noticeably older. Maybe that's why I want to go back--to remember the faces and the laughter, the food and drink, the heat and chaos of the long-gone Thanksgiving feasts before another face disappears from the table.
For the second year in a row both of our children are far from home celebrating Thanksgiving in their own homes. Cary lives in Portland, Oregon and was planning an extended feast where friends would drop by all afternoon and evening to eat, drink and celebrate the joys of life and friendship. Tom lives in Madrid, Spain. He was busy on the email all day yesterday getting last-minute instructions on stuffing, cooking time, temperatures, etc. It sounded like a regal event--young American expatriates gathering in a flat to cary on the chaotic traditions of Thanksgiving. I miss my children. More so on family holidays. I think next year we'll make every effort to be together for Thanksgiving. That would be nice. Looking around the table at the faces of those I love most in this world.
This year we went out for Thanksgiving dinner. Much easier, much cleaner, far less work, and maybe cheaper. The restaurant was crowded which surprised me, but the service was fine and the menu was lovely. The trouble was it just didn't feel like Thanksgiving. I missed the incredible amount of work--the buying and preparing of the food, the cleaning of the house, the preparation of hors d'oeuvres, the setting of the table, the slicing and serving, and the endless cleanup. The controlled chaos of family feasts. Someone always has too much to drink; everyone has too much to eat; something is over- or under-cooked. But the joy of sitting around a table elbow-to-elbow with your loved ones is too precious to miss.
So, next year, Thanksgiving 2010, if the Fates allow, I want our house to be filled with the odor of Thanksgiving, the heat of the oven and overstuffed bodies, and the lovely faces of my wife, my two children and our friends. That would be very nice, indeed.