This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Road to Thanksgiving

            This year we’ll be doing something completely different for Thanksgiving, but before I get to that, allow me a little trip down memory lane.
            Thanksgiving and Christmas are about getting together with the family to celebrate, so many of my Thanksgiving memories have to do with just that. What’s interesting as I think about it is that in some cases, the act of traveling to the Thanksgiving gathering was more memorable than the day itself.
            Take, for instance, my freshman year in college, when I came home for Thanksgiving feeling considerably more adult than I had a few weeks earlier, and quite a bit more adult than I really was at the time. I don’t remember a thing about the dinner or anything else that happened that weekend, but I have vivid memories of taking a Peerless Stages bus over Highway 17 in the rain and flying home on PSA from San Jose. The plane fare was $14.18, which might explain why PSA is no longer in business. Neither is Peerless Stages.

Snow in Seattle

            In 1986 we were planning on leaving for my mother’s place in Glendale at noon the day before Thanksgiving, but we were making an offer on the house we now live in, and things heated up. Following a frenzy of negotiation, we finally got a deal about 7 p.m. and hadn’t even begun packing. We drove down the next day, and the only thing I remember after we left Santa Cruz is that we stopped at Denny’s in Paso Robles for breakfast.
            A year before that, we went up to Seattle, where my sister Kathe had just given birth to a son. (We were at the son’s wedding this summer, which shows how time flies.) Seattle had an uncharacteristically heavy snowfall just before Thanksgiving that year, and it was tough sledding for the whole weekend. That was the year Kathe insisted on taking us for coffee at a new place that was then the rage in Seattle. I think it was called Starbuck’s, or something like that.
            Then there was the year Kathe and her family flew down Thanksgiving morning. No sooner had we got back from the airport than we found that our oven had gone on the fritz. The turkey ended up being hastily driven to Linda’s mother’s house, where it was cooked and rushed back in time for dinner.

Changing Traditions

            Our parents are all gone now, and the rest of us are more scattered, so the Thanksgiving tradition has changed in recent years. For some time now, it’s been just the three of us — Linda, Nick and me — at home for that holiday. Nick, over the years, developed a flair for seasoning and he’s been in charge of the mashed potatoes, a job he’s performed with distinction.
            This spring Nick went into the Army. He’ll be home for Christmas, but not Thanksgiving, so Linda and I are trying something different. Without a ravenous young man around to help polish off the leftovers, we couldn’t really see preparing a large meal that we’d never be able to finish. So we did some scouting around and made arrangements to pick up turkey meat, stuffing and gravy from a local establishment. We’ll make mashed potatoes and veg to finish the dinner.
            The potatoes won’t be as good as the ones Nick made, but they’ll remind us of him, and they’ll also remind us to be thankful for our many blessings. And after all, isn’t that what the holiday is all about?