When my father died, many things changed, including Thanksgiving. From the year he died (1995) until a couple of years ago, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my mother, stepfather, and some combination of my siblings, their kids, cousins, friends, and maternal family. It started with the beach. We would load everything into cars and head to Santa Cruz (or a bit south) to a beach house for four days. Awesome. My nieces and nephews were babies, and things were tricky in the beginning. Plus, there was a lot of food to haul. Turkeys, pies, all the ingredients for sides. And, there was negotiating the generally lame set-ups at most of the cabins. Tinny knives, one oven. An oven that didn't work.
But we also had the beach, the waves, the smell of salt. The kids spent most of the time by the water, tracking in salt and sun and air as they came in and out of the houses. We played a lot of cards. Hung out. Got along.
When D2 (my mother and stepfather) moved to the mountains, so did Thanksgiving. A few years, we had snow. A different kind of magic.
Two years ago, MIster and I had Bama on November 8. There was no way I was going to schlep an infant to the mountains into a cabin packed with people. No part of that sounded fun to me. So, we stayed home, ordered dinner from Whole Foods (a first for me; I'd been cooking the majority of the meal for years, in part because I'm a control freak about it). We ended up with the Footles and family who lived just blocks from us in Oakland and had new twins. We popped all the girls into cribs and ate with gusto. But I missed my family.
Last year, my uncle and his partner hosted. Uncle Oily puts on a grand bird. (When Thanksgiving has a big crowd, he and I both cook a bird; everything is gone by Saturday.) Unfortunately, they have a cat. Mister stayed home while Bama and I visited with family. We had a nice time, but we agreed we wouldn't do that again — we want this part of our family to be intact, especially on a day that celebrates being thankful and together.
After several years of long hours at work, our time in NY has given our family some breathing room. Mister is home for dinner and the laptops are closed most nights. We explore on the weekends, cook more, bake more, play more. We miss a lot about California, but we've found much in New York, too.
We're lucky enough to be heading to Uncle Raffi's parents' home for dinner today. We're bringing mashed potatoes, cranberries, and (fingers crossed) a pumpkin pie. My sister and her clutch will be with D2 while my brother and his brood will be with my sister-in-law's family. We'll be thinking of them and also of our friends and family on this coast who've made our transition to the East a little bit easier.
Uncle J and Aunt E and a lot of giggles.
Aunty Mandy, for drawing with us and always sending me a reply to my photos!
Bryan, our favorite friend for slides and swings.
Zobot, who runs around the fountain with us and draws with us and gives us hugs.
Uncle Raffi, for video chats and frequent visits.
Upendra and Sharla for sharing cereal and their home.
Aunty Cake, for visiting with Michael and bringing us a little bit of California (two pounds of Meyer lemons!)
Aunty Amy for calling every week, sometimes with very sound advice.
We're thankful for Nana; Aunty Jenny and Dash, Tia B and Cindy Lou Who, and all the OaklandMamas and OaklandBabies who aren't babies anymore (but more are coming!); Grandpa; Aunty Mimi and Uncle Alan; Uncle Nellie; Aunty Alicia, Uncle Andy, and Jack the Pirate Monkey; and many other friends and family who are no longer with us but are in our hearts.
We're thankful for each other, for Bama, and for Tiny Baby who's not so tiny and will be here soon.
We have much to be thankful for.