Saturday, November 25, 2006


You know the kinds of Thanksgivings you see in Sunset magazine? Tables beautifully set, all the traditional foods plus a few personalized twists, extended family and friends attired in casually autumnal clothes, a kids' table? I have always placed that image in my head as the visual definition of Thanksgiving dinner.

For several years, D and I hosted a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for our friends: long tables with white linens, wedding china, goblets, centerpieces of gourds, nuts, and candles, place cards, and all the traditional foods. We handled twenty guests seamlessly, effortlessly, without incident. But this year, the group of people we have included for this tradition had grown so large that we had a fall picnic in a local park instead. I missed the tables and passing the food, and seeing our friends a little more dressed up than usual.

I have a small family of origin, and most of its members shun tradition. Evidence: once we spent Christmas day on the side of a volcano in Hawaii eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Nothing wrong with Hawaii, or PB & J, but it's Christmas, people. When Thanksgiving is spent with my side of the family, it's nice and familial, there are yams and pumpkin pie, stuffing laced with sage, drowned in cranberry sauce. But it's small, and it's blue and green, because those are my mom's colors. No browns, oranges, candles.

D has a big family of origin whose members have even more friends. We spent Thanksgiving with them in Fresno this year, and took my mom along. Seventy or so people milling around the first floor of the house, singing Karaoke proudly and not particularly well, eating traditional filipino food (rice, garlicky noodles, egg rolls, stuffed fish, flan) from paper plates with plastic forks that kept dropping to the floor midst the metal folding chairs, and cackling with laughter late into the night. Fun, lively, chaotic, without a yam or pumpkin pie in sight. And, no football, yo. I don't even know who played, who won, etc. And I do care.

I told D this morning that someday, and I'm not sure where because our place is kind of small, I want to host Thanksgiving for our families. So we can have the picture that is stuck in my mind, begging to be satisfied.


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