Several cups of postprandial coffee at my cousin’s, followed by a cup of tea upon return to the house and combined with a lot of thinking about family, have left me a tad bit wired, and wishing for the soporific effects of turkey, which were evident immediately following the meal (but before the coffee).
It was an unusual Thanksgiving this year in many ways: a smaller group than normal, a different location, and, perhaps most notably, fewer pies (the Williams family average has in the past hovered around eight or so, but this year we were solidly at two). The day started out unseasonably warm, and though it was spitting snow when we arrived back home after the evening’s festivities, it didn’t quite feel autumnal. Part of this is due to geography: every other Thanksgiving in my life has been spent north of Saratoga, so cold weather and snow are the norm. But things change, and this year it was my cousin’s turn to play hostess, which had its own significance, a sort of passing-on of traditions. We ate at the table which formerly resided in my grandmother’s dining room in Whitehall, the one under which my cousins and I used to duck after every meal to play, while the adults sat around chatting and drinking coffee, the table at which I consumed all my Thanksgiving meals prior to about age nine or so. Only one sticks firmly in my head: the snowy week when I was in Kindergarten, and my father came brusting through my grandmother’s front door in a blast of cold air and flurries, a huge wild turkey slung over his back. My cousins and I sat on the living room floor in awe as he strode past us into the kitchen. I remember not being allowed into the back while my father and uncle went to work plucking, an interdiction which frustrated me to no end, as I was so intensely curious as to what was going on. We had two turkeys that year, one from the Grand Union and one from the woods outside Granville, and there was quite literally no comparison. If you have ever eaten wild turkey, you will know what I mean.
The following week, I brought in a black-and-white turkey feather for every kid in my class. I remember distributing them in people’s cubbies one afternoon with my dad. In fact, as I write this, there are two such feathers stuck in the jar of pens on my desk, both converted into quills by skillful penknife. I’m amazed that they’re still around almost twenty years later. I still have the jar of washable blue ink ($1.39 at the Paper Cuter in Westgate Plaza, now long gone) which I used to write with my first quill.
That’s the thing about home: you’re surrounded by memories, objects of memory, pointers to stories and recollections and shared histories. It’s like an embrace: sometimes it’s warm and comforting, but other times it’s so tight it feels stifling. This year, it’s alternating between the two, but right now, I’m feeling warmed.
And it’s a good thing, too: we keep the heat pretty low here in the Williams household. Luckily, a sweater, wool shirt, or bedcovers can solve that in pretty short order.
Good night, all.


6 thoughts on “Tryptophandom.

  1. Recovering

    Tim somehow makes it through the food preparation: … Finally, showtime. Turkey on a cutting board with a groove to rest. Sprouts and stuffing in the oven. Steamer with green beans on the back burner. Sudden panic as I realize…

  2. Nope, three: pumpkin, pecan, and oooh-yeah! weld blackberry.
    (What I cannot for the life of me figure out, since I did make a special trip to Hick’s Orchard for them — and bought the best — is that there was no apple. Can’t factor it.)

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