I have much to be thankful for this year, in spite of 2020 being such a horrible year. I am strong and in good health, husband Tom is strong and in good health, same for Athena our cat. I’m working on a new novel and new stories, Tom is working on new drawings, mobiles, jewelry, and sculptures, Athena is working on being adorable and keeping us happy every day. I published a novel and a second story collection that were well received. Life is good in the San Francisco Bay area.
I’m thankful that both sets of my grandparents left Europe for America at the turn of the twentieth century before the bloody Bolshevik Revolution, starting our tiny family in the U.S.A. I’m thankful that my family had nothing to do with genociding the Native Americans or with slavery—we weren’t even here.
If you want to disparage Thanksgiving or feel guilty about it, that’s on you.
I remember traveling from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to my parents’ home in Cleveland for Thanksgiving. I loved doing that. There was a relaxing, celebratory feeling unlike any other. My mother and grandmother were fabulous cooks and filled the house with delicious odors when I woke up in my old bedroom.
I love the traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. My mother served shrimp appetizer with her scrumptious homemade cocktail sauce and my grandmother would make her trademark lemon meringue pie, along with pumpkin pie.
Everyone dressed up. My parents invited several of their friends to fill out the chairs around the formal dining room table.
On my first dinner home from college, my mother’s friend was proclaiming about something or other but she kept referring to grown women as “girls”. I, a newly minted feminist at age eighteen (I was the obnoxious one), objected to her reference. She was briefly taken aback but then smiled at me and said, “Honey, when you get to my age, you’ll be glad if anyone refers to you as ‘a girl’.” She was in her mid-forties. I briefly thought she was being condescending, then smiled back. I got her point, she got mine, and the Thanksgiving feast proceeded well. I don’t remember anyone arguing about politics or having angry arguments.
In Los Angeles, Tom was having his own Thanksgiving feasts with his family. He had an Obnoxious Great-Uncle, one of the brothers of his grandmother. One Thanksgiving, the Obnoxious Great Uncle told Tom’s mother, announcing to all assembled, “Lynnie, you look like hell.” She was struggling with her weight. She took a glass salad bowl filled with salad and cracked the bowl in two on the top of the Obnoxious Great Uncle’s head. Tom’s mother was prone to fits of anger—her own mother called her “The Storm”—but I always tell Tom, “I’m on her side on this one.” The feast didn’t proceed well.
A decade later I’d gotten together with Tom and we were heading to his grandmother’s home in San Jose. I’d baked a pumpkin pie and we left in plenty of time, but the freeway traffic was hellishly slow-and-go all the way from San Francisco to San Jose. We arrived forty-five minutes late. We apologized, explained about the traffic, and the Obnoxious Great-Uncle quipped insinuatingly that we must have lingered too long in bed. I knew he was trying to bait me; I ignored him and asked Tom’s aunt what was her recipe for a dish she contributed to the dinner.
So there you have it.
What about you? Do you have any memorable moments of confrontations (or reconciliations) around the Thanksgiving table?
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