Wednesday, November 27: Because I’ve been living abroad for the last three years, I’ve been absent from Thanksgiving since 2009. This Thanksgiving, we try to cobble together as many of our clan as we can for the holiday.
I start by heading south on I-95 early Wednesday morning, along with the 1 million people estimated to be leaving the Washington metropolitan area for the holiday, to pick up my daughter Sarah in Richmond. What is normally a less than 2 hour drive is nearly three hours because of the mass exodus. After dropping Sarah’s dog Bagel at home, we go out for some pre-Thanksgiving shopping at Tyson’s Corner Center for her Christmas presents. There is no way I will shop on Black Friday, and we won’t see her for the Christmas holiday, so it has to be today or never.
Before shopping we enjoy some conveyor belt sushi at Wasabi Modern Japanese Cuisine at the mall.
Thursday, November 28: On Thursday morning, after preparing broccoli salad and kale and sun-dried tomato hummus spread, we pile in the car to drive to my sister Joan’s house in Salisbury, Maryland.
Today, we celebrate with most of my sister’s family and most of my family, along with my father and stepmother. My brother, who is now working in retail because of his job loss during the economic downturn, has to work so is unable to come. With the new Black Friday scenario, which involves stores opening on Thursday evening, he cannot make it to Maryland for the day. This whole Black Friday scenario, which is now insidiously creeping into Thursday, infuriates me beyond words. I don’t want to ruin my Thanksgiving by thinking, or writing (aka ranting), about it.
My son Adam is in California, just having finished his Permaculture Certification; he is spending the holidays with a fellow permaculturist and his family before he heads to Taos, New Mexico for a two-week Earthship Internship program beginning December 2 and ending on the 13th (Earthship). When we speak with him, he says he’s really sad to be away for the holiday and really misses us, BUT if he were here with us, he wouldn’t be able to be in California. After all, no one can be in two places at once. I fear we are losing him to California, where his deep beliefs about the values of holistic coaching, permaculture, and radically sustainable housing are not as far-fetched as they seem to be on the East Coast.
My other sister, Stephanie, who lives outside of Los Angeles, never makes it home for the holidays because she doesn’t care to fly. I’m sad to not see her, but we all talk by phone and I will see her on January 2, when I go to California for 10 days. I look forward to that, as I’ve been promising for years to visit her and have never kept my promises. 😦
Finally, my niece, Kelsey, who just got married this past summer, spends the holiday with her new husband’s family, one of those things that happens once one gets married.
Despite the missing family, we have a wonderful holiday feast with Joan, Steve and my nephew Seth; my dad and his wife Shirley; Mike, me, Sarah and Alex; and Lily, Joan’s golden lab. I am thankful for the laughs that are always a part of my family’s gatherings, for the wonderful feast my sister prepares, for the changing seasons, for the cold brisk November air, for my sister’s amazing hospitality and her warm, welcoming home. Last but not least, I’m thankful for the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving: turkey, gravy, oyster stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and the “slightly chilled red wine” that is my brother-in-law’s forte. I have missed these foods in my years abroad.
I’m thankful that I have 5 days off from teaching, and when I return to work on Monday, I only have two weeks remaining in the semester. I’m thankful for nearly completing my 5-week Travel Writing course through the Australian Writer’s Centre (which I will finish on Saturday), and for the 8 chapters of my novel I did manage to revise during the November NaNoWriMo challenge. Sadly, I didn’t finish the novel, but I will try to complete it in December, when I don’t have my teaching obligations.
Most of all, I’m thankful to be back home in America with my family.