Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Late Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday. Not that I didn't appreciate the food, because I did. I just always found it a little disappointing, maybe because it's not Christmas, though it does somehow mark the start of Christmas stuff.

We used to have Thanksgiving at my grandparents'. My mom's side in Vegas when we were little, and my dad's side in San Francisco when we were older. As a kid I took food for granted, and I was never much of a turkey fan (though few things beat cold stuffing for the next few days), so Thanksgiving was mostly about uncomfortable clothes and special china that you had to be extra super careful with.

At least we were all allowed to have a small glass of wine. That was cool.

When my parents did Thanksgiving at their house and I had learned to appreciate food, the meal itself was, of course, phenomenal. But it took at least three days of prep before the day, and then a full insane, exhausting day of non-stop cooking. I was never hungry anyway by the time dinner came around because of all the snacks. And then the meal was devoured and that was that. It just never seemed worth the effort, maybe because we have phenomenally good meals at my parents' all the time anyway.

So since I came here, I never really bothered with Thanksgiving. I hardly noticed it. Last year, a potluck at some friends', was the first time I did Thanksgiving in Turkey.

On Thanksgiving morning at work, my friend wished me "Happy Thanksgiving." I didn't hear her because of the copy machine, so she said it again louder and I remembered it was Thanksgiving. I remembered it was Thanksgiving several other times throughout the day when the same friend was wishing other people "Happy Thanksgiving."

The same friends were giving the potluck this weekend, and maybe something in me wanted to have Thanksgiving for real because I made a shitload of food. Stuffing sans the turkey, gravy with some drippings and caramelized onions left over from a chicken breast I roasted. Hummus. Of course hummus! Vegetable sticks. And some onion dip with a packet of onion soup mix I've had for I don't know how long, but I was pleased to find it.

At this point, I realize it's really hard to not capitalize "Turkey." I do it automatically. I did it just now. I never talk about the food kind of turkey.

Last year, LE didn't like the Thanksgiving potluck at all. He bitched the entire time, and didn't like the food, and threw a tantrum because he lost at bingo. But my friends' house was all done up with Christmas lights, which meant Thanksgiving was the start of Christmas for LE.

This year, he didn't want to go. He remembered that he didn't like the food. He didn't remember the bingo or the tantrum. But he heard some of his favorite man-friends were coming and grudgingly agreed.

And it ended up being pretty good. He partied with the grown-ups like a champ, and even toned it down a bit when I told him he was getting a little crazy. He ate chips and candy and vegetable sticks and didn't bitch about the food. He even sat and drank his coffee nicely.

My friend's husband had the clever idea of stuffing some old jeans to use as floor pillows. The pants-pillows make a lot of possibilities for pretending there's a dead person under your table.

They also fascinate little boys.

Then I gave LE my phone so he could wind down a bit. He remembered how to work the two-way camera.

It's a study in Boy.

Then he curled up next to me and went to sleep on the pants. Since I had just gotten him back that afternoon from his dad's, I was still in can't-stop-touching-the-boy mode. I got to pet him for an hour. I tried to make an elvin spit-curl with his hair no one has bothered to cut.

I remember how nice it was to be a kid and fall asleep, or fake asleep, while the grown-ups are all still talking. Their voices go in and out of your half-dream, with the soporific laughs and comforting sibilants and it feels so warm and good be safe like that.

When it looked like things were winding down, I dragged him awake for a pee before we left. He protested bitterly, still half asleep. But we weren't leaving just yet and he staggered back into the living room and crumpled onto the closest bit of rug he could find, kind of behind the dining room table.

He was all partied out. It was a really very good night.

Yeah, we totally did this.


Bill said...

You forgot to mention the yummies! You always got first yummies, and sometimes the only yummies. Your radar always went off when it was time for them.

Stranger said...

I didn't forget the yummies. Or claaaaaaaaammmms. Or cranberry sauce that takes the shape of the can. I just didn't want to get bogged down in detail.

melony candea said...

Howdy, stranger. I know you hear this all of the time, but I rarely get to say it so let me enjoy the moment. I had a lovely tomato Irish soup with beef for Thanksgiving, that many Americans would pshaw. I say: I'm thankful for my reality.

Istanbul, friends, romance and a van to live in. Things don't have to mesh with preconceived notions, as you well-highlighted this post. I appreciated it. Thank you. M.

Stranger said...

Tomato Irish soup with beef sounds heavenly.

Being able to find stuff to be thankful for rocks, doesn't it?


Ian said...

A belated Thanksgiving from the States! I stumbled upon your blog the other idea and am so thankful I found it. I'm a college student sprinting through the last few semesters of my BA in English and am planning on teaching English in Turkey after, and your blog gives one of the best insider looks that I've yet discovered.

Stranger said...

Cool, thanks!