Thanksgiving kind of gets the shaft. Stuck in there between Halloween and Christmas, most people look at it as the lull between the two big holidays. Me, I love it. It's one of those holidays that all Americans celebrate, and nobody's gonna get all weirded out because they have a different religion or came here from England or India or whatever. I'm not sure how Native Americans feel about it, but I'd like to think that they look at it as the good old days, you know, before the whole genocide thing.
I don't remember too many Thanksgivings as a kid, but I do remember what might be one of my favorite Thanksgivings as an adult. Hell, it might be one of my favorite holiday memories as an adult.
My ex-wife was doing an art show in Gainesville the day after Thanksgiving and left the day before, so Thanksgiving morning I was going to drive to my grandmother's in Georgia, eat, drive back home, then wake up the next morning and drive to Gainesville for Thanksgiving #2. This is a little-known advantage to being married. You can frequently get two Thanksgivings.
It was about a three hour drive to my Grandma's. While I hate day-to-day driving, I love trips. Especially solo trips. No bathroom breaks, no fights over the stereo, leaving whenever I get the urge; just me driving all caffiened up and alone with my thoughts and singing.
Although my dad is an only child, my grandma has a lot of ... well, I'm not really sure if they are actually blood relatives or friends or what. I think there is some sort of family connection way, way off there, like 3rd cousins once removed or whatever. Anyway, they all love me and make a fuss over me, which is one of the few times that attention like that doesn't make me feel awkward and weird.
And damn, can they cook! Along with the usual turkey and stuff, there was chicken and dumplings, about a gazillion vegetables, the most tender ribs I have ever had in my life, and like 5 different kinds of cake. I mean, seriously, can you even name more than 3 kinds of cake?
My plate looked like John Belushi's in Animal House, and every time I'd stop to take a breath or pause to savor another bite, they'd be all over me.
"Do you need something else? Anything we can get you?"
I usually hate being the center of attention, but having all these old Southern ladies baby me was pretty damn comforting and sweet. I was also drinking a ton of sweet tea. Not sweet tea like you get at the store or McDonald's or whatever, this was genuine Old Southern Lady Sweet Tea, the stuff that turns you diabetic after a glass or two. Of course, as soon as my glass was about 1/4 empty, it was filled to the rim by my old lady protectors.
I ate and drank so much I was dizzy. They made me massive plates for Christie (which of course she never got) and the ride home, and hugged my neck and I was on my way back to Jacksonville.
I managed to hit that golden hour, right when the sun starts to set. I've loved that hour since I was a teenager because it meant that my work was done and I was on the road with my friends to a punk show or a skate trip. This time I was almost alone on the road, I was listening to NPR, Fugazi's The Argument, one of those later Man or Astroman albums and feeling completely contented, if still a little dizzy.
I got home to a completely empty apartment complex. Actually, most of the neighborhood was dark. I might have been the only one on our street at the time. I started in on one of my plates, opened a Guinness and started playing 7"s at a volume I wasn't usually allowed to, what with the paper thin walls and all.
It's not too often that I feel completely at peace, but after getting babied all day, eating a ton of food, knowing that I was going to see my wife and her family the next day, but that I had tonight to play the stereo loud, get drunk and eat even more combined with the drive home gave me the most peaceful feeling I had felt in a long time. I still feel good thinking about it today. I hope both of my loyal readers are able to get a piece of that this Thanksgiving.