(Official Thanksgiving soundtrack: The Macy*s Parade on NBC)
My life is one of many doors, many floors, and scores of places. I cannot claim that I spent summer at the same camp every summer. Or that I went to the same school six years in a row. Or that I spent Thanksgiving with the same people every year, at the same place, in the same country.
Actually, the only Thanksgivings I remember are the ones I've spent in this country. I'm sure we celebrated Thanksgiving the four years we lived in Honduras, or the two Thanksgivings we were in Germany, but I don't remember them.*
My birthday is near to Thanksgiving, and every once in a while, on Thanksgiving, so I remember driving home from Thanksgiving in 7th grade with crimson red mittens from someone.
In college, my parents were in Poland. I spent Thanksgiving with aunts and uncles. So I never did see high school friends over Christmas or Thanksgiving. What's funny about this is that while I am a big person for reunions and tradition, I generally end up being friends with people who aren't into reunions and such. When I recently met up with a high school friend on a visit to New England, she said, "Oh, I never got together with anyone over the holidays."
My freshman year of college, my cousin Mark died. So my aunt drove to Pittsburgh to pick me up and then we drove to New Jersey. Even though my dad and Mark had been like brothers when they were boys, I alone was the representative for our family. A similar but opposite event was at the end of my sophomore year of college when my cousin Kate got married, my mother's sister's daughter.
My memories of Thanksgiving are of 311 Washington, at my aunt's house. Or of sitting on the floor at my grandparent's, watching the Macy*s parade. Or of going to the movies with my other aunt and uncle. I now have one aunt (my mom's sister) and one uncle (my dad's brother-in-law.) My uncle recently remarried, so I guess I have a step-aunt? But no one lives in the same house anymore. We don't have anyone in Washington, NJ anymore. My uncle still lives in State College, PA, but not in the house that my cousins moved to in the late eighties.
I think (I guess I'll find out over turkey today) that my parents are selling the house I grew up in. Welll, when I say I grew up in that house, I mean it was the house I lived in for the all important preschool and high school years. (Well, include two years of junior high--or was it intermediate school?) They currently live in a lovely house in Northern Virginia, probably not the house they'll stay in once my mother retires. (My sister and I, traditionalists at heart, are in denial on this one.) But my dad LOVES Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania doesn't tax pensions...a girl can hope.
Let's see...other years? Well, for about three or so years my mom's side of the family gathered at a golf club for a buffet. It might have been in New Jersey, but was probably in Pennsylvania, in the Easton/Allentown-ish area. My grandmother would be there, with her health aide, a woman from Ghana. Often we would be joined by the former health aides of my great aunt Margaret, who died in 1995. All these women have become a part of our extended family. I don't think they've been to any family weddings, but they've been present at all the funerals: my aunt Margaret, my grandmother, my Uncle Klaus.
My most treasured part of this trip was the stop we would make at a canal near Easton, PA. We would walk along the canal. One year my mother and I made this trip--I honestly couldn't tell you where the rest of my family was--and on the way home I needed supper (I always need supper, even on Thanksgiving) and we stopped at a truck stop.
The years I lived in Pittsburgh and worked retail, my family would sometimes come to Pittsburgh and we'd have turkey in my tiny garret. (They came to me because I'd have to work on Black Friday.)
This year was a mystery. I had a snafu with my vacation days and this year has been a catch-up with my negative comp time. So I have Thanksgiving off, that's it. I have Christmas off, that's it. (Fortunately because the library is closed for Christmas eve, I can make it into a four day weekend.) I was thrilled when my parents said they'd be coming up.
[Did you notice the change in soundtrack? For the first time this morning, I muted the Macy*s parade--someone is doing a really bad version of "Give my Regards to Broadway" on the M&M float.]
And, yes, as a single person who lives in two small rooms in a third floor walk up, I was thrilled when I successfully made--wait for it--reservations. We are dining at the Sheraton Station Square. I'm hoping we have a river view--Station Square is up against the Monongahela River, or "the Mon" for short. My parents and sister are going to be staying at the Sheraton, which marks a new hotel experience for us all. (The tradition has been to stay at the Ramada which became a Doubletree a few years ago.)
Well, thanks for walking along side me down Mem'ry Ln. Happy Thanksgiving!!
*stay tuned tomorrow for my parent's memory of Thanksgiving in Krakow, Poland.
4 days ago