It's Thanksgiving Day today in the U.S., a national holiday dedicated to the legend of a shared meal between the early European colonists and the Native Americans who encountered them. Of course, time and selective memory have softened the truth of that first harvest season into something that's suitable for elementary school re-enactments, where the class is divided roughly into Indians and Pilgrims, and perform a make-believe feast of construction-paper food for parents and family. At least, it was recognized as such in one of my early schools. We moved to another state when I was still fairly young, one that had a deer-hunting season, so the fourth Thursday of November became less focused around making hand-print turkeys and more about the making unique fashion statement of blaze orange hunter's caps with camouflaged coveralls. Thanksgiving became an also-ran to Deer Day.
Now I'm older and more ornery, and bristling visibly at "Black Friday" sales now being superseded by stores opening on Thanksgiving day. Christmas decor is already in all the shops: it's been in place since the first of the month. I still champion the day, though, not just because of its focus on sharing a really big, home-cooked meal concluding with pie* -- well, that is a large part of the appeal -- but because it's a last day of quiet before the rush to the end of the year. This year, the calendar has aligned such that Thanksgiving is the earliest it can possibly be -- November 22. This means we effectively get an extra week to heed to the drumbeat of Christmas mania. You can imagine how I feel about that.
That drumbeat, however, is over 24 hours away. I'm writing this Wednesday evening, and I hope to be offline much of tomorrow. Tomorrow, I get up early as I have every day this month, sit at the keys and try to wring a few more pages of my novel out of my brain, and listen for the sound of my youngest sneaking into the room with the dog diligently behind her. We'll make pumpkin pie, and apple pie, and a raisin pie, and make too much noise as we mix and pour and bake and clean, and then do it all again. The Nice Dishes will come out of the cupboard, we'll wipe off the wine glasses and shake out the good napkins and prop up the hand-print turkeys my daughters make** as they wait and wait and wait for the meal to be readied, as too many people try to do too many things in our too-small kitchen. We'll sit down at last, hungry and tired and ready to eat, and then go around the table as we always do, saying what we're thankful for.***
I'm thankful for many things: things I'll share at the table, things I'll keep private in my heart.
Thanks to all of you for putting up with Rhinos and novels and all the self-indulgence that comes from keeping a blog. Thanks for being part of the Brigade, be it as a participant, or part of the cheering section, or one of the sane people watching politely from the sidelines. Thanks for being one of the nicest groups of people on the Internet, hands down. Thanks for all your scholarship, for your photo essays, for flea markets and for sharing your hobbies.
Thanks for another year, everyone. Can I get you another slice of pie?
* If it's done right, that is. Some traditions should never be lost, and the post-Thanksgiving pie coma is one of them.
** Hand-print turkeys are another tradition not to be trifled with.
*** Highly corny. You're allowed to do this. It's Thanksgiving!