I had a very unique Thanksgiving this year. It wasn’t about turkey or relatives. No family tension.
Since Thanksgiving has forever been my favorite holiday, I always kind of feel a spike in anxiety just before the day. Will I be spending it alone? I can think of nothing worse. When I came to this city in August of 2014 I didn’t know a soul. It was kind of daunting, really. It’s not easy to start over again in your 50’s.
But my first Seattle Thanksgiving was a delightful one. The cousin of a dear friend kind of took me in, and I met a lot of really nice people in a beautiful house in Ballard. On year two I had to work, but a friend brought me a plate on the job, and hung out with me while I ate it. That was unbelievably kind.
This year I was invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. I met her daughter and her daughter’s partner for the first time, and got to know another one of her friends a little better. Vegetarians all, but willing to occasionally eat fish, they had no turkey or gravy on their table. We had salmon, and the most amazing stuffed squash and salads and mashed potatoes, and deviled eggs, and pumpkin pie for dessert. And then I had to rush out the door and go to work. But I left encased in a warm glow.
Then at work I got a text from another friend. “Look for hippies in hats,” she said. Huh? And then there they were, walking up the bridge! I had a nice visit with them while I ate my second Thanksgiving of the day. (Calories don’t count on this one day a year, don’t ya know.) They made this pilgrimage in the rain just to spend some time with me. And that meant so much to me that it brings tears to my eyes whenever I think about it.
Yes, the meaning of Thanksgiving is rather troublesome. I would be thrilled if it were replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day. (But I can see how that would be a difficult shift to make for some people, after the momentum of generations of tradition.) But for me, the Thanksgiving story, with all its falsehoods and inequities, is not the thing. The thing is the fellowship. It’s breaking bread with people. It’s gratitude for making it through another year. It’s the coming together, without the pressure of gift giving or elaborate decorations. Good food, good people. Good times.
This was a most excellent way to spend the holiday. Salmon may fly in the face of what we consider to be tradition, but it felt like the perfect Pacific Northwest way to celebrate a year of abundance. And sitting in the dark on a drawbridge and watching the rain fall may not be a horn of plenty, candles, and the good silver, but it was such a relief to be around people who weren’t at political loggerheads, and had no reason to rehash old wounds, as there were none. It was the best of that day—fellowship with people who accept you as you are.
With the right people, you could serve me a TV dinner fresh out of the microwave. It would still seem like a feast. When all is said and done, that is definitely something to be thankful for.