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Thanksgiving Memories


I woke up at 6 o'clock, probably because there's still quite a bit to be done. The stuffing was made yesterday (though I missed the subtle nuances you get from Bell's Seasoning, which I didn't have but have since found and ordered--ta-da!--online.) Ben and I made the pies last night, and the last-minute stuff is ready to prepare.

I have to admit to having a strain of wistfulness running in the background on Thanksgiving, since it always boils down to just the kids and myself (my sister's family lives four hundred miles away.) This seems completely normal to them, but they're kids, and we see each other every day, and Thanksgiving is pretty much the meal and that's it. I keep waiting for all that fulfilling 'other stuff' to happen.

As a kid, we all--my grandparents, my mother's siblings and my cousins--got together at our grandparents' house in San Francisco, where a great time of visiting (and playing, in the case of us kids) was had by all. Grownups caught up on each other's lives while we kids found plenty to do with the box of toys in Grandpa's study beside his huge console radio, or making up games of our own, or sitting and sliding down the polished wood stairs (a favorite pastime.) Eventually, with the adults talking--seeming inexplicably--for hours on end, we'd be tucked in for the night in Grandma's spare room until finally our parents were ready to go, where we'd visit in the dark until at last we fell asleep.

Eventually the grownups would come to retrieve us, and though we'd wake up, we'd pretend to still be asleep, knowing this would get us carried out to the car. I always opened one eye as we went past the knick-knack shelf in the hall, though, where my grandmother had a small ceramic Little Miss Muffet sitting on a glass shelf, completely unsuspecting, a spoon in her curds, never noticing the small ceramic spider suspended by an elf from the shelf above.

Then it was the loud voices of goodbye around me and out the door to where fog swirled through the darkened streets and spilled down the side of Mt. Davidson, giving off its inimitable smell of night freshness, and into the cold car, where my sister and I would be bundled in the back, Dad would fire up the engine and inevitably, after a few moments when the windshield would begin to fog on the inside, announce with characteristic gentle humor, "You know, somebody's going to have to stop breathing here for a while!" Then we'd be off in the direction of home, Mom and Dad huddled close in the front seat, Dad singing softly.

We'd wake half an hour later at home, being guided into our little house. We'd shiver into our nightgowns and wait, shaking, beside our beds while Mom ironed the sheets so they'd be warm while we settled in. And then we'd be in, the brief heat evaporating as we pulled the covers around us and began to make our own warmth.

They were good times. Very good.


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