Kage Baker always espoused a quiet, contemplative Thanksgiving Day.
Why she did, I do not know. She never got one. It’s a primary family holiday, of course, so when we were small it was all loud and confused bun fights with rotating family casts. Sometimes literally – it was sort of a family tradition, when I reached driving age, to send me out for forgotten rolls and have me return having gotten into an automobile accident. And Kage was always my co-pilot for those festive occasions of flat tires, dead batteries, running out of gas, hitting trees, hitting fire hydrants, hitting brand-new Mercedes Benzes … not quiet. All Kage contemplated for years was why the hell anyone let me out in the first place. Good times!
As older adults, Kage and I flitted around between Thanksgiving feasts; on average, 3 per holiday. It was an insane asylum in multiple acts, the last one performed in a trance of tryptophan, pumpkin pie and narcolepsy caused by all available blood supply having retreated to our digestive systems. Neither quiet nor conducive to contemplation, except maybe when the cooking crew settled in the dark dining room after dinner to giggle, finish off all the wine bottles, and eat the last olives and cranberries so we didn’t have to get them back in the jars.
. We lived on leftovers for a week, though. Good times.
For the past 15 years, I’ve been working Dickens Fair in Northern California during the season. Between rehearsals, and the natural proximity of Thanksgiving to Christmas, our Thanksgivings were often spent finishing building our set in the Cow Palace. Our producers always put out a feast for the workers during Hell Week; I have wonderful memories of pie and turkey and beer from paper plates, sitting on the icy concrete floor to paint the base of our Bar, singing “Jerusalem” in harmony with Kage. Oh, very good times in old England …
In these later years, as we’ve gotten our construction act together rather more featly, Kage and I went up the day before Thanksgiving, to mooch off kind friends and be ready for the Friday after – which is always a performance day for us. Steve and Carol Skold, who are technically the parents of some of my playmates but are actually my friends as well, have taken us in for years now – first Kage and I, then just me, and now me and nephew Michael. Neither quiet nor contemplative there either, but we learned to be grateful for the miracle of instant family wherever we went. I miss you folks in Santa Rosa, and wish you the best of good times today.
Today, Dear Readers, for the first time in 15 years, I am at my own home for Thanksgiving Day. I will eat only one dinner. I will sleep in my own bed, and not drive insanely through the night and the wonders of I-5 to leap immediately into Extreme Christmas. And although I miss many, many people – with whom I have spent some of the most peculiar Thanksgivings imaginable – I am alive and well with Kimberly and Company, and glad of it, too. Good times!
I’m thankful to be here. I’m thankful to be anywhere, Dear Readers,and a turkey TV dinner would be enough to content me this year. But I’m with my family, and in fact Kimberly is making a wonderful classic dinner for us even as I write, and the atmosphere around my desk here is redolent with roasting turkey, and bacon, and fruit cake, and gingerbread … there will be stuffing, and special vegetables (though the really weird ones will be saved for leftover meals. I’ll explain later.) and gravy and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and 2 kinds of cranberry sauce – and probably stuff I’ve forgotten about but will happily eat far too much of later on.
Quieter than usual, I must say – although not silent; lots of giggles and occasional screams as the cooking goes on; and there’s the Twilight Zone to listen to as well. The National Dog Show was on earlier, and the Skye Terrier took Best of Show, huzzah!
I’ve certainly got lots to contemplate. I’ve had a lot of ideas lately, even after the interesting drugs stopped; tomorrow I hope to share a few with you, Dear Readers, for general thought-provokery and merriment.
And in the merry meantime: cherish wherever and whomever you are with, Dear Readers. Yeah, Thanksgiving is hardly a world holiday, and even if it were, the world is in a sorry old shape this year. But we who are fortunate enough to be anywhere near a whole roof and enough to eat and someone, anyone, whom we love and who lives us back – well, I think we owe it to the zeitgeist to be as happy and grateful as we can manage. Be mindful of good will, and good times, and good luck, and love.
And a few thoughts for cranberries and roast turkey won’t go amiss, either. Happy Thanksgiving, all.