November 29, 2012


I traveled home to Memphis for Thanksgiving. As it's a very short very family holiday, none of my friends were in town. Apparently, all I did was eat with my family -- exactly what I was supposed to do. I learned this from my drawings and photos during my trip. Mostly about food....

I've only been away from my family for three Thanksgivings. I missed my first shortly after I turned 21. I was doing a semester abroad in London. The country voted least likely to celebrate Thanksgiving. Our program put on a dinner for us. It was on a boat anchored in the Thames, and while it was a nice dinner, it wasn't the Thanksgiving I knew. There were Yorkshire puddings. The next day, I took the Oxford Tube to visit my friend who was studying there. I was staying overnight for Thanksgiving dinner, so clearly I packed a toothbrush, fresh underwear, several pounds of potatoes and a potato masher. We ate an obscene amount of food prepared in a kitchen no larger than my parents' bathroom and tried to convince her English friends that millions of Americans played the classic after dinner game of Pin the Hat on the Turkey. They bought it.

After college, I moved to Pennsylvania and flying home for two days really wasn't practical. It took planes trains and automobiles to get me there and almost 12 hours of travel. I spent my second Thanksgiving with a friend, and we prepared a spread of sides.... but no turkey. Turkey for two is laughably impractical, and neither of us wanted to spend a whole day cooking, so we fried up a pound of bacon instead. There are no leftovers for days when a pound of bacon is involved. I took myself on a date to the Philadelphia Museum of Art the next day.

The next year I was adopted by my boss and joined a large and ragtag bunch of children, significant others, mothers, friends, dogs, and cats. I initially balked at the idea of spending it with someone else's family and not having the role of girlfriend or distant cousin to play, but it was really nice, and one of the largest Thanksgivings I've been to. After that, I drove to Boston to stay with a friend from high school. We made silly faces and ate cannolis. I went to two museums, Sunday services in the "One if by Land, Two if by Sea" church, and reunited with some old friends from my first family-less Thanksgiving.

You'll be my family for a little while, / Until we get to where we're goin'.

My favorite song about Thanksgiving, written by some folks from home.
Cornucopia by Scandaliz Vandalistz

I learned a while ago that Thanksgiving is what you make of it, and as long as you spend it with people you like, it will usually be a great time. 

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