I have crossed over this bridge hundreds of times. As a child, on my way to the sledding hill at Northside Park or to cut over to downtown, and as an adult returning, walking along familiar streets, Gary and Thomas Avenues, Morse and Armbrust Streets, past the high school, slowing my stride as I pass my grandmother’s house. She’s gone now, and whomever lives there now has parked ATVs where her roses used to be.
I am a longtime, bona fide, Thanksgiving-scrooge. But I wasn’t always. Actually, it was in my grandmother’s kitchen that I took over the Thanksgiving meal, in my early teens. It was so pleasantly haphazard then. I remember, much to my grandmother's shock, fingering butter and chopped herbs below the skin of the turkey before roasting it; a way to leave my mark, to apply even the slightest variation. I could have known then the future trajectory I would take.
I remember lumps in the gravy. And the whirring of the electric carving knife gripped by my grandmother’s capable hand.
Something happened along the way, and my sweetness for the holiday dissolved. The answer as to why is a web. And it’s not lost on me that I am a table-gathering advocate, a cook who feeds a lot of people, and considers the dining table a kind of temple. But Thanksgiving, for me, with its extended family dynamics and deep-seated connotations, is complicated.
But as much as I believe in the energy and balm of good food, such as Thanksgiving implies, I believe in the power of the dining table. That everyday object we often overlook, is a place of possibility, a place of common ground, a place to share and to listen, to ruminate, or reconsider, to look into the eyes of the ones we break bread with.
It is a place we can come to wholeheartedly, each time. What a relief to have that possibility, however difficult or charged your past moments at the table, over food, with the ones you love, have been. After all, it’s Thanksgiving. Who can despise the nature of this day? To give thanks. To be thankful, for the endless gifts which fall into our paths every day, and for all the possibilities.