I still don't know how it's already Thanksgiving Day in the States. Right now several close friends of mine are making their way to 7th Avenue, bundled up in the cold, nursing coffees, and getting ready to kick off the Macy's Day Parade! I'll watch clips and see dancer friends twirling through my city and celebrating their shows and the holiday. I'll look for and not see my friend Ellie who's been a clown for over a decade and I never see her in the parade. Today in Dubai is business as usual. I've packed up my dinner for another long Thursday night (It's a Friday night here). With everything happening, I won't have a chance to go on a hunt for pumpkin or any other fixings for a mock Thanksgiving tonight. Maybe Sunday when I'm off.
The lack of cold air here makes it feel like summer, it helps hold off the homesickness a bit. Christmas in September weather will be harder, I think. I keep thinking of where I might be at any other year. Maybe fighting over music on the radio with my sister, arguing over how early is too early to start drinking, and elbowing our way into some kitchen real estate for whatever we decide to make. Or maybe in NYC with my chosen family where we have an adventure trying to cook everything in one tiny Astoria kitchen. Somehow the turkey always survives disasters to be delicious. We'd have too much food for the people that made it and would wander over somewhere to share. Whole pies would be dropped at Diamond Dogs, leftovers would be consumed later in the week by fellow barflies (or bartenders that invite themselves over for pies). Atticus would find a way to lock us out of the apartment, and once we got back in, we'd all fall asleep on top of each other. There would be Skype calls to my scattered family all day, my cousin would tease my self-cut bangs, my aunt would nearly burn the pies, my sister would roll her eyes, toss her hair, and outshine the rest of the family baking in the kitchen. She would also steal the whipped cream and spray the can into her mouth when she thought no one was watching, and I would be reminded again as to why this has always been my favorite holiday.
I am always so grateful for the people in my life. My blood family scattered across the country, my chosen family in New York, and the tight-knit family in Astoria built on our love of food, stories, and good people. I have a hard time not being in the kitchen all day today, but the hardest part today is being away from all of them.
Thanksgiving is a hard holiday to explain to non-Americans. The history is convoluted and commemorates how our ancestors nearly wiped out an indigenous people. But the tradition of gratitude, of open tables, welcoming strangers, sharing a meal put together through traditions and memories, and a beacon of love and compassion in a world often hazy with greed and hate is something I still treasure and celebrate.
To me, Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude and sanctuary. My table will always be open.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.