Later this week, I’ll be hopping on an Amtrak train from Boston to New York City for the welcomed annual ritual of Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends.
What began over a decade ago as an impromptu gathering of cousins and dear friends has become a tradition: The same home in Brooklyn, with a steady cast of about a dozen regulars, a mix of adults and fast-growing kids. A fulsome, traditional Thanksgiving menu (and it’s always amazing). People congregating in the kitchen as the food is prepared. An evening feast — this is New York, after all, we tend to eat later. During dessert, some migrate to another room to play guitars and sing (a lot of 60s and 70s stuff), while others hang out at the dinner table and talk, and the kids go off to do their things.
You know what’s odd? As far as I can recall, we’ve never taken any pictures. That’s why I had to snag a picture of the Amtrak train to illustrate this blog post! Among our group of late Boomers through Millennials, with smartphones abounding, Thanksgiving dinner has never been a photo op. Hey, maybe we don’t need to post photos to our social media pages to remind us about what this gathering means.
Of course, I also enjoy walking around New York City during the holidays. I’m not big on the festivities — during the 12 years I lived there, I never even went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade(!) — but there is something about New York during this time that activates my nostalgia buttons.
For some reason I have an especially sharp memory of my first Thanksgiving in New York. It was during my first year of law school, and several of us waifs from the Midwest decided that we would make our own Thanksgiving dinner. However, it became clear that no one had actually ever done this before when we learned that you cannot start to defrost a turkey on Thanksgiving morning and expect it to be ready to eat later in the day. So we did what many New Yorkers do and splurged on a nice restaurant for our holiday dinner.
Given that my cooking skills have not dramatically improved over the decades, it remains a good thing that my Thanksgiving role is more about enthusiastic consumption than preparation. Such is my happy place at the table. Here’s wishing a bountiful meal and great company for you, too.