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The holiday that disappeared. And other festive ruminations.
Thanksgiving Post Facto
I thought I was going to post on Thanksgiving, even though there's no Thanksgiving here. I had this idea all planned out where I'd list what I was thankful for and the things that I missed about good ol' Turkey Day.
Because in my family, Thanksgiving amounted to a ritual. I felt like I had to make a nod to that ritual somehow, because it was so ingrained in me. Up until I graduated high school, the ritual went like this:
- Get up at ungodly hour of the morning (o'dark thirty, as my dad would call it)
- Fall asleep in the car while my dad drove us up Highway 101
- Stop in San Luis Obispo for a gut busting breakfast
- Drive onward, chatting, playing road trip games with my mom, listening to the radio, reading
- Arrive in Cupertino in the early afternoon
- Lounge around the living room watching football with the guys and eating munchies while my mom and my aunt bustled in the kitchen
- Got changed for dinner and helped put the food out and set the tables
- More laughter with cousins, aunt, uncle, their friends, cousin's spouses and kids, whoever else showed up
- Everyone holds hands around the table while my uncle says grace
- Eat until painfully full
- Have pecan and pumpkin pie
- Play dominoes or some type of board game, with much more laugher and goofing off
- Collapse from exhaustion in bed
After I started up college in Washington state, this list was nearly the same, except we flew down from SeaTac instead of driving up from Ventura. And I had to help in the kitchen with my mom more.
We made this trip every year that I can remember, sometimes when we were all sick, because all that good food and good company and love stirred and mixed together to make the headiest, most addictive elixir you can imagine. I'm talking ambrosia of the gods kind of good.
This year, things are fragmented. Mom and Dad live in different cities and I'm on a different continent. Nobody from my immediate family went to my aunt's & uncle's place in Cupertino. We didn't necessarily have a horrible holiday, but it definitely wasn't the same. And for me, there wasn't even a public holiday. So it wasn't really about the day. Without the people, the day was just another day. And that's all right, as long as I remember to say thank you in my own way and time.
This year I'll be thankful when, on Wednesday, my dad lands safely in Sydney and we can go paint the town red together (I'll really be thankful for the time off work, to go enjoy the hot weather and play tourist). It's hard to believe I haven't seen him since July. And I'll be thankful on Christmas Eve when my mom gets here. And the night before my birthday we'll go see The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged at the Sydney Opera House. I'll be thankful to get a chance to see the new person she's working on becoming. Things in life are changing. It's time to forge new traditions.
I'm thankful for that, too, as much as I loved that heady elixir of Thanksgiving, the stuffed mushrooms, the football game putting me to sleep, listening to my family's laughter. But sometimes you just have to forge new traditions.