No Thanks for the Giving
Thanksgiving in the rear view
The 32-pound turkey fit into the upper wall oven, no minor feat considering I had to heave it up there myself along with the weighted Calphalon pan. Now that my husband Rob is working, and has a three-hour round-trip commute, it just doesn't seem fair to ask for his help. Domesticity has become my realm, squarely, so when he arrives home after 8 p.m., all rumpled clothes and cheerful facade, the dinner dishes are cleaned, the pots done, and I rouse to his entrance with the energy of a full-out catatonic.
We had 26 people, 28 counting two who came just for dessert. It was a real mix, twins and triplets from Rob's side, nieces and nephews from mine. And of course, our son Ben and his cousins. The young adults stayed firmly on their own sides like at a stadium football game. I can't blame them; I host Thanksgiving every other year, so the last time they'd seen each other they were in high school, in college, or grad-school bound. Now some are working in real jobs, with boyfriends or girlfriends, and they're slouched deep into the couch like middle-aged adults. I used to try hard in the commingling department, like the chain dances in the '70s when the music would stop and you'd turn to the person next to you and dance with a stranger. "Did you know the two of you went to the University of Maryland, three years apart?" I'd say things like that. But now I just let it be. I do try and lower the lights. Put on relaxing music. Classical can be way too heart-thumping, Sinatra too overdone. Pete Seeger would be my choice, some "Guantanamera" to get the crowd going. Silly, I know; eventually the football game takes over anyway.
When the big day is over, the couches open into beds and we settle in for a long family weekend. I try for some one-on-one conversation and find it in the early morning with Rob's daughter over coffee, and with my niece's boyfriend while staring at an Edward Hopper painting at the Whitney Museum. It's hard maneuvering seven people though the streets of New York City and a few of them arrive at the museum pouty and resistant as if it's an early morning job or a required art history class. As if this day should only be about shopping. Hopper's Early Sunday Morning resonates with its stark dislocation, and I can't help feeling I want to just sit and stare at his artwork. All day. Alone. Or with Rob. Or with Rob's daughter who is an artist. But Dylan's Candy Bar and Serendipity were the bargain.
After searching out a few missing relatives in the Whitney, we find them on the second floor staring with disbelief at a lifelike Duane Hanson sculpture of an older woman and her dog. I wait for the woman to blink, to open her eyes and burst out laughing at us all.