So much has changed this year, but – just like old times – we headed to Princeton for Thanksgiving. It was so good to have a carload of kids once again…
We just got back home after another week in Princeton, New Jersey, where our family has been congregating for many years over the holidays. We had a one day layover at Auntie Sissy’s house, where I rediscovered this immortal classic. We had given her this book my now 17-year-old son’s Kindergarten teacher asked him to write to make up for the couple extra days we took off at the beginning of the week…
Day 6: Friday. We drived home and I stopped for lunch.
We drove up to Arlington to spend Thanksgiving with my parents and my sister.
Every morning I accompanied the titular mayor of Arlington, aka my mother, on her daily walkabout to greet her subjects and to survey her lands. My father wordlessly walked behind my mother and me as we slowly made our way around the block. Every now and then my mother would use her cane to clear the sidewalk of errant twigs or to nudge newspapers a little closer to the houses to which they had been delivered. As we walked, she would tell me the life history of her peoples in astonishing detail.
“This man is a surveyor,” she said, brandishing her cane towards one of the little brick ranchers. She sighed and continued, “But he’s getting old. His yard used to be really nice when his girlfriend lived here. She’d always be outside weeding or planting flowers…But she left him because he refused to marry her.”
“And these people finally fixed their roof after a tree fell into it…It took them months to fix it and as soon as they did, they sold it and moved to Florida. It was on the market for less than a week and sold for over $700,000.”
“I see these people have weeded their garden. It was such a mess. It looks much better now.”
She stopped to gesture with her cane toward a shrub in front of another house.
“Do you know what that shrub is?” she asked me.
“The one with white flowers that’s right next to that house?”
“I think that’s a camellia.”
“A camellia? Well, it doesn’t have any scent,” she said with a distinct note of disapproval.
“You mean, you walked all the way up to the end of a stranger’s driveway to smell their shrub?” I asked.
“Why not?” she replied with regal nonchalance as she continued to process down the sidewalk.
We moved further along and she said, “There used to be a huge tree right here. They cut it down, which is good, because the branches were hanging right over their roof.” As she spoke, the man whose house we had stopped in front of happened to walk past his storm door. He glanced at my mother and politely waved. Taking this to be a request for an audience, she obligingly turned around and started making her way up his walkway, thereby forcing him to come out of his house to meet her.
“I see you cut down this tree. How much did it cost to do that?”
I turned back to exchange a rueful smile with my father as I was sure he would be writhing in embarrassment, but he had vanished. All I could see were the jet trails he left as he scurried back to his own house without so much as a goodbye.
It’s not easy to gather eighteen people together in one place…
But we managed to do it!
From my 80-year-old dad to my 20-month-old niece…
I’m so thankful that we made it happen this year, especially since those gypsy parents of mine…
announced that they’re moving back to Korea in March for a year…or maybe three.
There was turkey…(thanks, Ina)!
and way too much food in general:
There were outings…(thanks, Auntie Sissy!):
Taste of China:
There were quiet times:
and rowdy times:
There was music:
There was laughter:
And there was love:
I have at least seventeen reasons to be thankful every single day of the year….
I was in my first year at college and things weren’t going so well. I felt like an alien in a land where everyone already seemed to know each other from their days at Groton, Exeter or Andover. This blandly good-looking tribe wore the same uniform with only subtle variations.They would languidly call out to each other by their last names as they regrouped every Wednesday and every weekend to drink themselves blind at the frats.
I was a long way from home: a ten hour drive from Arlington to Hanover, New Hampshire, to be exact. We couldn’t afford a ticket to get me back home for the short Thanksgiving break, especially with the longer Winter break just around the corner. The campus was completely deserted. I was all alone in my big empty dorm, and all alone for my first Thanksgiving away from home.
I thought about that first Thanksgiving as I drove up to Arlington to be with my parents this Tuesday evening. The memory of it made me shake my head as I inched my way up 29 North, which was clogged with all the other weary travelers trying to outrun the 5-8 inch snowfall that was predicted for the next morning. On that Thanksgiving evening many years ago, my parents showed up at my dorm room after hours and hours of driving with my younger brother in tow. If you’ve ever driven along the Northeast corridor around Thanksgiving, you’ll know that a ten hour drive can easily become a twenty hour drive. I was appalled and aghast that they had done this for me, and also – so, so glad. We ordered pizza for our Thanksgiving dinner and ate it off paper plates in my room. It was a feast fit for a king and queen.
As you might expect, no amount of coaxing or pleading could convince them to stay the night. We ate our dinner and they headed off into the snowy night to drive all the way back to Arlington. I know my parents are crazy like I know the earth is round, but I also know that I have been incredibly lucky in my life to have experienced their love. I’m thankful for it every single day. May each and every one of us know that crazy, unreasonable, outrageous love, and may we put it right back out there into the universe.
Happy Thanksgiving to you!