My family moved to Portland in the spring of 1988, and that fall was the first time we were on our own for Thanksgiving. In the years before we had always gone to my grandma Bunny’s house in Woodland Hills, CA and gathered around her big table with the rest of the extended Los Angeles family.
That first year in Portland my grandma Tutu flew out from Philly to join us, and my cousin Jeremy (who was living in our basement in those days) came up the stairs for dinner. Dinner wasn’t perfect, the rhythm and routine that we now fall into when preparing holiday meals hadn’t been established yet. When Tutu went to set the table, she turned to my mom and asked, “Honey, where’s your good stuff?”
There was no good stuff, only a smattering of white dishes culled from thriftstore shelves that we used everyday and Auntie Tunkel’s heavy old silver. Jelly glasses held sparkling apple juice and instead of a gravy boat a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup held the gravy.
This year was similarly simple, with an eclectic assortment of relatives sitting down to eat at 6 pm around my great-grandfather’s dining table. My parents and I spent most of the day dancing around the butcher block in the kitchen, each trying to get out of the way of another when pots went on and off the stove. My sister was absent, she’s on tour right now with a bluegrass band called Green Mountain Grass and wound up having Thanksgiving at the home of one of the band members, someplace in Arizona. The dog spent the day looking tortured by the scents coming out of the kitchen, not ever able to pinpoint from where the smell of meat was issuing.
I am thankful for many things this year but right now I am most thankful for having had the opportunity to spend this holiday with my parents.