It’s the wonderful, joy filled time of the holidays. Family, friends, food, activities, a time to connect and remember. Growing up a couple of Thanksgivings come to mind~ both of them accord in New York. The first memory was going to the Macy day parade when I was about 4, we lived in Brooklyn and this was a big treat. I was most excited about all the colored paper from the floats so I collected a large amount of the paper. We (my family went to a restaurant before heading back home. While I was in the bathroom with my sister, the waitress cleared off the table and threw away my color paper. (Actually it technically it was trash I picked up off the street.) The other memory was when I was 16, I was with the Long Walk for Survival in New York City. I had run away to be close to a boy I fell in love with Charley Grass. That Thanksgiving I joined the group and fasted for Thanksgiving. I fasted to remember all of the Native Americans that lost their lives for this fun-filled holiday. The night before Thanksgiving that year I also fell asleep on James Taylor’s couch. I met him when I was “playing the role of a secretary” for the medicine man Leonard Crowdog. In some ways that was a very lonely Thanksgiving.
Other memories of the holidays ~ going to visit my cousins in KY.
Or when my father would invite faculty and or students that didn’t have any place to go. These were usually foreign or visiting students. They would bring a dish to share. Then after my mother married my stepfather ~ we always had a house full. We sat around the big table, and laughed and ate and told stories. We always had a puzzle on a table in one room and would play a board game after the meal.
The first Thanksgiving my now ex-husband shared with us. He told me it was his favorite holiday. He also told me my mother was a much better cook than his mother. He also told me I was a better cook than his mother. I wish he remembered when he was telling his mother cutting remarks a few years later. But he got to see how we celebrated family~ and that was through sharing.
After we got married I continued the family tradition of inviting faculty or exchange students to our house for the holiday. I loved opening up my home and sharing food with new friends and family. It also worked out well when my brother Randy married a wonderful cook April and she would come and help. I would make very traditional dishes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, apple pie. One year I made a very fancy pumpkin pecan torte 7 layers.
Another Thanksgiving, Don (my ex) got us invited over to a colleague’s house but the turkey took much much longer to cook than his friend knew. His friend was very embarrassed but we explained it was all good. They were a young couple and this was their first holiday meal they were sharing. I had planned to host guests at my house too. Luck for me my brothers and niece felt comfortable going into my house and getting things ready without me.
But my biggest memory throughout those celebrations later when my sister and her family were unable to share it with us. Were the phone calls from my sister, she would start off calling me about 7am on Thanksgiving and tell me her big plans for the turkey. One year she found a recipe in the New York Times ~ this is going to be the best turkey ever. She would call me throughout the day keeping me up to date as to how her meal was progressing. Things started off positive and then would take a turn and she would call to tell me she was having this problem and what should she do. I would advise her. Then she would call back a few minutes later telling me something she decided to try instead. I believe that was the year the turkey was raw on the inside and burnt on the outside. She said, well Martha Stewart isn’t a good choice. The next year, it would start all over again. I would always advise her to go simple~ turkeys should be moist and don’t need much to make them taste good. Her phones calls seemed to follow a script. We would laugh and how things were going or not going. This happened for a few years till she called to tell me they were just going to have lobster and picked them up at Whole Foods.