I woke up early Thursday evening just in time to see someone in a red sweater dash into my kitchen.
Burglars, I thought in my semi-conscious state. I’m being robbed!
I gradually became aware of my surroundings. I was stretched out on the floor of my living room like the victim in a Law & Order episode.
I raised my head and saw my auntie sitting on the couch. What was she doing here? And why wasn’t she beating the crap out of that burglar with her purse?
Then I realized it was Thanksgiving Day. That person in the red sweater who had just disappeared into the kitchen wasn’t an armed intruder; she was my sister.
And I had fallen sound asleep in front of my guests.
I’ve never held a Thanksgiving dinner at my home before, but I’m pretty sure that proper etiquette calls for the host to remain conscious for the entire event.
But I was exhausted. I had been fretting about this dinner for weeks and now that I was worry-free, sufficiently stuffed, and only slightly soused, I decided to relax a little.
We had gotten a prepared turkey from the Fairway Market in Red Hook.
The caterer said that all we had to do was pop the little guy into the oven and take him out at the appointed hour, but I was nervous about actually having to cook something after years of dedicated microwaving.
And as soon as I ordered the bird, my mind plummeted straight into the irrational fear zone.
I was going to burn the turkey. The Thanksgiving Eve crowd at Fairway would look like Black Friday at Wal-Marts. My oven would break down. My auntie would miss her bus. Perverted androids from the future would beam into my home and molest the curtains.
“If anything goes wrong,” my auntie sagely suggested, “we’ll laugh.”
Oh, Don’t You Cry For Me
And laugh we did. As it turned out, the turkey was delicious, Fairway was sparsely populated, the oven worked perfectly, my auntie arrived on time, and the degenerate cyborgs from the 23rd Century apparently went to somebody else’s house.
One of my favorite moments of the day came when I stepped outside of my apartment for a few minutes to help my sister carry some stuff from her car. As we came in from the cold, we were greeted by a welcoming wave of warm air filled with the aroma of cooking turkey.
It instantly brought me back to my childhood when we all went to my Aunt Loretta’s place in upper Manhattan. Now this most singular scent was emanating from my own home.
I had another familial flashback during a late-night dishwashing marathon on Wednesday evening.
Whilst taking down the good china that had gone unused for ages, I came across a ceramic asparagus dish.
I flipped it over and read “Susanna 1964”—my mother’s signature from nearly half-a-century ago.
A little background: My mother’s name was Gloria and her middle name was supposed to be Assumpta because she was born on Assumption Day.
However, the doctor who delivered her was not Italian, and thus wrote “Susanna” on her birth certificate.
Now I could’ve chosen to be sad upon seeing this dish and recalling my mother, which would have set me up for one of my world-famous crying routines.
But I elected to be thankful for having our mother in our lives for as a long as we did and I resolved to enjoy the holiday.
If you went solely by population this dinner was much smaller than those family gatherings from days gone by.
Emotionally, though, it was a massive banquet as I thought about the loved ones who were no longer with us, but who were still seated at our table nonetheless.
I think I could into this host business. I already volunteered my place for our Christmas dinner.
I’m going to prepare for good times and merry company. And those perverted androids had better stay away from my drapes.