Friday, November 17, 2006

Catalogue of Thanksgivings...

The first Thanksgivings I remember were celebrated in the house I grew up in, which was attached to my dad’s bar, the Three Legged Dog Saloon. He invited anybody without family to join – that usually meant men working on the oil rigs, women who had crushes on my dad, ‘barmaids’, and a few Utes who lived on the reservation the bar was in and were regulars. People crowded around a table filled with generic Thanksgiving fare that my father always made himself: turkey, potatoes, beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pies. Lot’s of wine, too, but that was store bought. I was usually the only child, but I relished that role. Everybody was extra kind to me because of it, especially on this day when everybody missed the vestiges of real families and a little girl fed their nostalgia as much as the food and the tradition did.

After that, there were Thanksgivings I spent in Salt Lake City, which I never enjoyed as much because they were formal and lacked the chaos I associated with the day. And then there was the college Thanksgiving I forgot about until seven or eight at night, when my friend Nick Jackson and I went to a convenience store and bought a couple turkey pot pies (only in Minnesota do convenience stores carry pot pies). It felt hip and I was impressed with our ingenuity.

In New York City I cooked my first bird in a fast-cook method, because I didn’t realize how long it took to thaw a turkey. My college friends Wi Sorenson and Eric Heaton refused to eat it because, though I found it tantalizingly juicy, they were convinced it was raw and might kill them. I was congenially distressed.

In Houston, I spent a few Thanksgivings with the same friends, usually at the Wolfes’ fabulous abode. About sixteen close friends from the writing program all smoked up before dinner, and we ate Steve’s incredible food, and passed out all over his house, our sleep sound as Rip Van Winkle’s (which was appropriate as Van Winkle himself was a creation of one of our friends’ great, great, great, etc. granfather.).

When that group broke up, I hosted several at my little blue house. These events were like my fathers’, filled with people I knew, but usually not very well. We drank wine and argued and flirted and had a good time. Finally, I became a vegetarian again, as I had been in college. My first vegetarian Thanksgiving was actually a vegan one, which I spent at my friend Chuck’s. We awaited Janice Blue, host of Pacifica’s Go Vegan Texas, like she was the Easter Bunny, and when she arrived with her Textured Soy Protein Turkey, the countless sweet potato, corn, and barley dishes immediately appeared not only less oppressive, but ordained.

By then I was dating GreenDaddy, and my mom joined our first Thanksgiving together – it was the first Thanksgiving I’d spent with a family member since I was 18. My friend Kate was going to bring a turkey, but she was very stressed, and for the only time in the history of my knowing her, she bailed on bringing it over late on in the game --the night before Thanksgiving. My mom needed a turkey and was worried it would never thaw in time…but luckily, Houston isn’t Myton, Utah, and not all turkeys are frozen. We went to Whole Foods, picked one up, and cooked it with our friend Jenny’s help. Mom came the following year, but the year after that she was too sick; and now she’s coming again this year.

For the first time in years, we’ll have Thanksgiving at the Wolfe’s again. So the Houston Thanksgivings come full circle. And actually, a good chunk of the original Wolfe Thanksgiving participants will be at this years’ event. And my mom will be here, so I’m excited. Steve and Diana will have a turkey, Chuck will bring Tofurkey, and I will bring some foods derivitave of the Americas…Amyrynth stuffing, probably, and I’ll also bring either vegy loaf or vegy cutlets.

And it’s BabyG’s first Thanksgiving. She had a mild bout of Scarlet Fever and had to take Amoxicillan, and since then has refused most food outside of breast milk, so she’ll be vegetarian this year…though she’s about the size of a big turkey.

Thanksgiving is a holiday I’ve spent with so many people, many of whom I no longer am in contact with, and many of whom I still see daily. I like that. I like that my father modeled it as a night of community and that I continue to celebrate it in this way. That’s about as profound as I feel like being, and after over a week of no posts, I feel like owe more to the blogging world. But I just wanted to say I like Thanksgiving, and I am happy to have a little baby girl and a fabulous husband to celebrate the next couple dozen or so with.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My Thanksgivings are celebrated sporadically and often not on the actual holiday (mostly because of work, etc). This Thanksgiving we didn't celebrate--being in England and all, the spirit was sort-of absent. This post touched me with a bit of nostalgia....:)