Thanksgiving has come and gone. So, yes, I’m late for the party with this post.
No big surprise there.
I started writing this after reading a post over at my good friend Billy’s site. Somehow, it struck a chord with me that ended up becoming a rather melancholy one.
Let’s not mince words — when it comes to food, people in the U.S. tend to stuff the heck out of theyselves. Most of the time, the wife and I split an entree when we go out to eat, because whatever we order is just too damn much food. Things can get especially bad around Thanksgiving; I’ve seen one too many holiday-season weight gains, far too many tryptophan-induced food comas to think otherwise.
I never really felt homesick when I was living in Japan. But I did miss certain family-based traditions. Christmas, sadly, long ago became a time of stress and drawing a single name out of a hat (because people in my family have apparently become unable to buy more than one gift for one person at any given time). But Thanksgiving was different; the only obligation was to show up and eat, and it was the one time of the year that my manic, ridiculously large family was able to gather together in one place. But not this year.
For the first time in the memory of a lot of people in my family, this was the first Thanksgiving without the grandparents. They both passed away last year; I was present at my grandfather’s funeral, a pallbearer at my grandmother’s. They’d lived well into their 90s, and every year they were the glue that kept our family together. But this year, with them gone, the family was scattered.
Siblings were conspicuously absent. Dad and the new girlfriend were off in the hill country. What remained of the family gathered at my uncle’s house, trying to keep the spirit alive. It was fun, but sad at the same time. The holidays aren’t what they used to be.
There was eating, but not much gorging. There was drinking, but a surprising lack of drunken drama. There was family, but not enough to fill that old house, even bigger now with its renovations and widened-out rooms and palapa in the back yard.
I miss my grandma and grandpa. I miss how much influence they had on that one time of the year that, somehow, we all managed to get around the same table.
And it sucked not having any tamales this year.
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