Well, it happened today, the official 'watch' for Thanksgiving. Bern came home with a fresh turkey and the bread cubes for the stuffing. All that remains is the waiting and the dreaming and the cooking and all that stuff.
Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. First of all, I don't have to do church since I retired. Second of all, I love all the food. Third of all, it is such a joy to be surrounded by the people I love most. Fourth of all, there's nothing much to do after dinner but watch football or take an over-full walk. Fifth of all....Well, I could keep going. Just let this be clear: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!
We're having 14 people for dinner. I'm not sure we have 14 appropriate chairs, much less enough table to handle that. But all that is OK because the 14 people are some of my favorite people on the planet--Maybe like 14 of my favorite 20 people in the world, including the top 8.
The top 8--Josh, my son, and Cathy Chen, his wife and the three best granddaughters on the planet if not in the universe: Morgan, Emma and Tegan. They're all coming Tuesday of next week, early to miss the traffic from Baltimore. When 'the girls'--as we call Morgan, Emma and Tegan--arrive, most all order goes out the window! They take over the house, consuming space much larger than their size requires. The dog gets anxious because he has to herd and guard them and they move fast! What a joy to anticipate....Sumi, their best-of-all-most-gentle dog, won't be coming. Sumi died this year. She was a testament to how pit bull's bad rap is a lie. The sweetest ever dog. I will miss her.
Mimi and Tim will come from New York, I hope, on Wednesday, so they'll have an extra day with the girls, who adore them and so I can be with them longer. They're getting married on October 12, 2014. They've been together for as long as I can remember and they'll be married before next Thanksgiving. I thank God for them each day. I love them both so much--my baby girl and the man she deserves.
And then, Bern, of course, my love since I was 17 and she was 14 and my wife for 43 years of that time. Bern has moved from being 'the love of my life' to being 'my life' since I retired. I move within her orbit with joy and gratitude.
The other 5 (I make it 14) are John, who we've known since Bern was in college and I was a social worker, a fellow West Virginian who lives in New Haven. If I have a 'best friend' it is John, though I tend to move among multitudes I think of as friends.
Sherry and Jack and Robbie are coming. A shift in the Force. Sherry and Jack are part of our Easter 'family'....since we have no relations in New England, we've adopted 'family' for Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving. John is always there, but the others shift and change, though usually the same for each holiday. But Robbie--their son who is a year older than Josh--will be here for Thanksgiving and they called and invited themselves. No problem. We've known them all since we moved to Connecticut in 1980--33 years, amazingly. Robbie and Josh and Mimi grew up together, more or less. Sherry (along with John) goes to North Carolina to the beach each year, joining Bern and Mimi and Tim and I there on Oak Island. We love them like a rock.
Finally, Hanne--a German born woman who was a member of the search committee who called me to be the Rector of St. John's in New Haven in 1980. Several years after I came, I was visiting her and noticed that on her bulletin board in her kitchen, she had a picture of Bern and Josh and Mimi and me along with members of her family. I've loved her ever since. She always comes on Thanksgiving. I'm not sure how old she is--in her 80's for sure--and still has piano concerts in her apartment in Hamden though she has macular degeneration and can hardly see at all.
So, that's the cast of characters.
The food seldom varies, though with Sherry coming she might bring some Southern thing--Jack is from Virginia and Sherry from South Carolina. Turkey, dressing (which I make from a recipe I have in my head for over 30 years now) green bean casserole with those dried onions, gravy, mashed potatoes and some kind of sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce--all the things everyone eats on Thanksgiving--and several kinds of pie for dessert. And lots of wine.
Here's the great thing: as soon as Bern brings home the turkey and puts it in the fridge, I start anticipating Thanksgiving. I have 12 days of anticipation this year. What could be better than that? Thinking about being with those people is just about as good as being with them for real. But not quite. But I wouldn't trade the anticipation for anything silver or gold.
The next 12 days will be silver and golden enough in my mind and heart.....
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