|I will now make it my goal to eat Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s house, forever. The advantages cannot be overstressed. You get to sleep in; you don’t have to worry about rising at dawn to deal with yams, or begin the long process of prepping the fowl for the oven. You don’t have to make the house presentable, find the leaves for the table, get out the china – always in a top shelf that require a chair – and you don’t have to spent as much as a minute reducing vegetables into smaller shapes, or arranging them in a pleasing fashion.
You just get in the car and drive to a place where you are forbidden to help. So you sit by the fire and listen to your stomach growl, but it’s not really a growl of anger or frustration; more like a purr of anticipation. The meal appears; the meal is consumed; the plates are removed. Go! No, you can’t help clean up. Listen, I stabbed a guest in ’79 who tried to wash up! Out! Back to the fire to sit around with everyone, heads heavy as though we’re in our third day in a hash den. Since these people aren’t family, there is no history to avoid or regret. Granted, no history to share or celebrate, but such things are usually unspoken anyway. So you talk to the strangers, and learn new things. No obligations, no pressure to make this an Heirloom Memory – but it becomes one anyway, since you’ll never forget heading outside afterwards into the piercing cold to let the kids run off their energy in the park.
They hunted for bears. Gnat stood in the middle of a vast empty field with a flashlight, studying the ground.
I found a clue, Daddy! I found tracks for a fox and a chicken!
About as good a day as it gets, aside from losing all feeling in my toes halfway through the bear hunt.
One of the things that made the day so enjoyable was that everyone was happy. It’s good to be around happy people. Not the simple silly Pollyanna happy that starts to make your molars ache after a while, but simple plain cheer. It’s not that they’ve all lead blessed blemish-free lives – far from it. But either by disposition or choice or both, plus Chablis, they were just cheerful people. And tonight I realized that I’m not just happy, I’m more optimistic than I’ve been since – oh, some time in the early middle of September. Sometimes you need to turn a corner to realize you’ve already turned a few, and no, I don’t know what that means. Other than I’m starting to speak in platitudes and had best hang it up for the night.
The day’s highlight: since we weren’t having Thanksgiving at home, Gnat and I made an entire meal out of Play-Doh while my wife napped. Delicious. I especially recommend the pink tomatoes. If they’re in season.
One final note: at 3 PM, it snowed. Just a few flakes. But enough to catch on your tongue.
One final final note: it’s now 11:30. I’m hungry.
I wonder if I could drive over, knock, and –
No. Best not push it. Happy has its limits.