Thanksgiving was my dad's favorite holiday. Thanksgiving was Abel's favorite holiday. Apparently, in my family, your mortality is directly connected to your love of Thanksgiving. When I watch Thanksgiving episodes of television shows or read blog entries about it, there seem to be two schools of thought: Thanksgiving is either a time to be over the top and out of character in your declarations of thankfulness and lovingkindness, or it's a problem to be solved. To me, Thanksgiving is a scary blank page. A blank page holds as much threat as it does promise.
Over the years I've tried to work around the problem of Thanksgiving. Many times, I served beef tenderloin. This was less intimidating than turkey, less a reminder that Thanksgiving was never going to be again what it was when I was a child: the time when everyone was home -- siblings, spouses, nieces and nephews and usually a stray or two. When my siblings married, it was assumed they'd have Christmas with their spouses family, who usually had some sort of religious connection to Christmas. Thanksgiving belonged to Perlmans.
I've spent a handful of Thanksgivings with other families. There were a few LB and I spent with his family, usually because I was too pregnant to fly. Last year we had Thanksgiving with Miss Susan and family. Always, I've had a vague sense of having committed Thanksgiving Adultery. Certain things must always be a certain way. The sweet potatoes must have marshmallows. Cranberries must feature prominently in both sauce and cranberry bread. Most of all there must be a preponderance of Perlmans.
This year, Thanksgiving has moved from the scary blank page to a comfortable piece of scratch paper . My nephew-the-doctor and his wife had other plans for the day of, so we are having our Very Perlman Thanksgiving on Friday. There will be the eight of us Sullivans, Mom, Hen, Andra, Baley and Henry, Seth (nephew) and his wife Eve (no, really: those are their names), and my... second cousin? First cousin once removed? I never get that one right, but it's Emily, she's adorable, and you've met her before.
And it all happens not on the fraught with nostalgia, loss, grief and loaded-with-import Thursday. Instead, our Thanksgiving will take place on low-pressure Friday. Expansive, forgiving, end of the week Friday.
The knitting project already has a dropped stitch; the log cabin quilt has an uneven seam on that very first row of blocks. Perfection need not be pursued. I'm reminded of when I was an insomniac teenager, rendered more unable to sleep by the mere thought of how much sleep I was already missing. Sometimes when that happened I would take my pillow and move my head to the other end of the bed. And that would make all the difference.