SO my solitary Thanksgiving had its significant wins and irrelevant losses. The biggest loss was my can opener which broke and made pumpkin pie impossible. Oh oh poor me…
As holidays have a way of doing, it made me think of some PAST Thanksgivings. As a kid, my Thanksgivings almost always involved my family, and usually my Aunt Martha had Thanksgiving with us. Sometimes even a bigger family event. This was a Thanksgiving when I was a little kid — maybe 5 years old so 1957?. This is our house in Englewood, CO, and the people? My mom’s on the right facing, two of my aunts and my cousin, Linda. My best MEMORY of this Thanksgiving is seeing the Wizard of Oz on TV and the next day running up and down the street with my two boy cousins — David and Greg — the sons of my Aunt Jo, holding the dishtowel in this photo — running from a “tomato.” My cousin David didn’t get “tornado.” His smart and preternaturally sophisticated older brother, Greg, said we should be glad we weren’t running from a watermelon.
Of course the Thanksgiving after President Kennedy was shot was bizarre, but honestly, from my perspective as a sixth grader, the most bizarre element was we didn’t do anything but watch TV. It was unusual, even given those events, then the truth came out that my Aunt Martha had a big, bloody blister on her foot, and watching “history” was just a way of saving face. The grownups watched but none of them were in the room to see Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald; only my brother was there to see it. Somehow they were mad at him because they missed it.
A reality of Thanksgiving is that after a few days together all the time we all got on each other’s nerves and wanted to get back to “normal” life.
The WORST Thanksgiving of my life was back in something like 1984? when the Good X and I decided to go to Ensenada. We got in our SAAB and headed south. Just south of Tijuana, the pin that turns the distributor broke and the car stopped. We sat beside the highway, wondering what we were going to do when some Angeles Verdes (Green Angels) a kind of roving Tourist Assistance organization of the government happened by.
Mi Español primitivo was very useful and pretty soon two talented mechanics had diagnosed the problem, taken the distributor apart, said, “See?” in Spanish to the Good X who nodded and to which I said, “¡Si!” They then looked along the side of the road for an appropriately sized nail which they cut to fit the hole where the pin would go. The reassembled the distributor and we were on our way to Ensenada.
Ensenada was great. We wandered around and had some rotisserie chicken then headed back toward home when it began to rain. Seriously rain. Torrents. Buckets. By the time we got back to Tijuana almost two hours later it was dark and still pouring rain. The rain had been even heavier there. The Tijuana River was prone to flooding AND it WAS flooding. The main road was in Zona Rio along the river. We were afraid the water was going to be too deep to drive in. We could hear the water splashing on the underside of the car. No way to know what debris was down there, either. Big rocks? Anything. We ran over something…
We made it across the border. Yay! Then, just across the border, the car overheated, steam rising from under the hood. The Good X opened the hood, jumped back, and all we could do was wait. There were no Green Angels in the US, either. After a while, the engine cooled. There was enough water left in the radiator, so we headed home to Hillcrest, the neighborhood where we lived in San Diego.
It was 10 pm. I cooked us a couple of hotdogs, we wrapped them in slices of bread, and called it good. They were turkey hotdogs anyway.
One wonderful Thanksgiving was in my little stone house in Descanso. I had learned by then that smoked turkey was not only tasty but fool proof. You didn’t have to “dress” it but you could cook the stuffing/dressing outside the bird. SO about 10 am I put the turkey in the oven for dinner at 2 (it still took a while to heat up). My friend Kris showed up and we headed to the Lagunas for a Thanksgiving hike. After a couple hours on the trail, enjoying the Jeffry Pines, the autumn cool and conversation we went back to my house and finished what we had to prepare. It was a potluck Thanksgiving and when people started appearing, so did the rest of the dinner — including sweet potato pie. All of my guests were intelligent and funny and happy to be there. After dinner, my friend Denis complained that I didn’t have cable TV so he could watch football and ended up telling stories to my friend David’s two kids and going to sleep on the sofa. The two little boys went to sleep on a corner in the living room and, true to their breeding, my two Siberian Huskies curled around them to protect them and keep them warm.
The ONLY downside to that Thanksgiving was after feeding some ten people, the dishes remained. It took two hours for Kris and I to clean up.
I’ve had some beautiful Thanksgivings since I returned to Colorado with my friends in Colorado Springs and my wonderful neighbors. Maybe the most important Thanksgiving was the one in which the good X and I discovered Mission Trails which opened the world to me in so many ways. It made a tradition out of hiking on Thanksgiving.
In 2012, my stepson and his wonderful wife came up to Descanso for Thanksgiving. Before dinner, we took a beautiful snowy hike on the Garnet Peak Trail.
Hiking is my personal Thanksgiving tradition, but I didn’t yesterday. The thing about traditions is that once in a while it’s good to break with them so they don’t become an excrescent obligation on the face of the calendar.
Featured photo: my mom and grandmother after Thanksgiving Dinner in Englewood, CO, 1958?
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