What does your family usually do on Thanksgiving?
Since my wife and I are both from big families—and most of her family is in California—we are often at another family’s house. But whether at our home or not, the drill is the same. We usually go to church. And then food. Family. And that special holiday feel that rises up like a kind of magical barrier against constant work and deadlines. Although I have one, weird personal tradition: in this Thanksgiving holiday space I am often inspired and actually have time after the day itself to write. I know for some it is a difficult holiday. We're all broken. Humanity is broken. But no matter how broken you think you or your family are, may you find a measure of the special peace (a very real common good) that comes from the household this year.
I don’t know how big or small this demographic is, but we always do formal dinner without the archetypal Thanksgiving foods. No stuffed turkey, no cranberry goo—usually something more like fish and salad or roast and asparagus. We open with a prayer and a toast, but largely save the outward trappings of sentimental traditionalism for Christmas!
This year, sadly, I am away from my wife and kids on account of a family emergency. Happily, my younger brother lives close by, so I get to spend it with someone I love. He will likely dress a turkey and the rest, while I will contribute to the meal pasta and meatballs, which is what I prefer to eat, anyway. Family in our home, with a Hispanic mother, meant all sorts of food. Turkey, always, but also Paraguayan dishes. The emphasis was always less on the food and more on the fact that we were blessed to have all of us around the table. So, I suppose that this spirit is the tradition I aim to keep going.
We are and always have been a scattered bunch. It’s a shame because, unlike many families (including many in my own ancestral past) we actually like each other. But this year for the first time I’ll be with my boyfriend’s family in Indiana, which I’m exceedingly delighted about. His parents are dear friends, and we’ll share a meal (I think given the plane flight that we’ll probably just bring the wine). My expectant sister, her husband, and their son will eat together in New York, while my parents will be here in LA. Usually if I’m in town we gather with my aunt and another family with whom we’re so close it’s as if we’re related. But we will of course check in with each other during the day, and count one another high on our list of blessings. That is enough, and more than.