I watched Mighty Joe Young, King Kong (and other movie classics), playing black & white all day on WWOR Channel 9. On a cold day when tree branches resembled elderly fingers pointed to the sky and thick cloud cover melted everything in shades of brown, the decay of sycamore leaves the only color left.
All the while, I never understood how the divine choosers of television programming decided Thanksgiving was a perfect day for savage gorillas.
Overall, it seemed perfect.
Anyway – I overdid the container eggnog-like dairy product (as usual), felt the edgy excitement about how the family-run stores in the neighborhood would be decorating for the beginning of Christmas shopping season (Black Friday), and listened to my mother who already overdid the vodka, try to wedge processed turkey breast (with gravy-like substance included), into a compact, gloss-white Tappan oven.
Tiny kitchen, tiny stove, tiny poultry-like something.
All I heard was that tin-like cooker hit the blue-speckled sides of the oven multiple times before it awkwardly met its fate, settled in a hot tomb.
The more noise I heard, the more vodka mom consumed.
A holiday culinary symphony. And ironically, I miss it. It was both of us against the world.
A time and space when she thought only of me. And the best fake turkey I ever consumed were on those days.
Walking around early Thanksgiving morning back then, is something I’ll never forget. Unusually solemn for a city daybreak.
Quiet suffocated the apartment complex. Stillness was priority. Not even the bustling subway trains ran on a normal schedule. Their odd disappearance generated vacuum-deafness louder than any roaring speed as steel hit steel on elevated tracks.
Everything about Thanksgiving Day was magically different. The calm so out of place, especially for a city. I’d get on the empty F train and travel its entire route on holidays. I did it to observe, behind speeding glass, the wonder of what was going on in the compact kitchens of other 3-room walk-ups. Most of it was in my imagination, but a comfort, nonetheless.
The quiet gave me a chance to breathe, gather thoughts and not stress out over how the hell was I to eventually escape from the brick, cement and tar crap hole.
Listen, we are all trapped in crap holes at times. Thanksgiving gives us a chance to break free. The time allow thoughts bigger than ourselves to enter the crowded real estate in our heads.
It gives us a chance to appreciate those we love, whether they’re here or gone. Sometimes, there’s permission for old ghosts to sneak back in, and there’s a sad-excitement to that too.
On Thanksgiving we’ll strive for peace and gratefulness…
Like the feeling you get when your clanky, quiet holiday before 8am, re-emerges from the deep of your mind. Or whatever your choppy memory of what Thanksgiving is. Or was.
When the sun is low, narrow and yellow-sharp against a blue pitch, we think about all we have lost.
We try to let it go. But we never really let it go.
We just put it aside. And sometimes we don’t.
We allow in shadows of those we love and some we may not love so much.
We give them a free pass.
To follow alongside.
Invite them to feast with us.
And find comfort in what they were.
Good or evil.
Because at Thanksgiving, the peace and the quiet overrules everything.