Thanksgiving, for me, is a family holiday. The excitement, the anticipation, the goodly smells that fill the house, the kitchen in and of itself as the center of all things, the anxious wish to set the table with one of our most beautiful autumnal tablecloths and pretty china dishes...all these things are Thanksgiving to me.
The half-groan as I'm woken early to help my mother in the kitchen, such help usually not taking the form of the actual cooking but rather the preparatory steps, the cutting of vegetables or pouring of sauces or the marinading of chicken, brushing egg yolks over crispy dough, brinking up cans of pumpkin mix from the cellar, or perhaps bringing up the whole green and yellow squash from the refrigerator in the basement...all this is Thanksgiving.
The work, the laughter, the loss of tempers, the witty conversation between all the family members, the music, which is always something strong and rythymic (salsa, tango, or various artists- who will it be, I wonder, Marc Anthony, Avraham Russo, Enrique, or Gipsyland?), the urgent telephone calls and laughing good-natured anecdotes about the experiences of others as we all inform each other of the recent and most important developments in our lives...
Thanksgiving is a time of sharing. The shared energy and excitement as we all help prepare, the addition of sparkling apple cider or sugar water or sparkling grape juice to the laden table, the beautiful colors mixing together, the smile as we all sit down to dine and exclaim over what we've made and the various dishes my mother has put together...oh, and the pies and desserts my grandmother has made...
We also prepare the table in a very different fashion than ordinary. The napkins must be folded or pressed or placed in wine glasses in an elaborate display; we make family members little poems or odes of thanks and leave these offerings on appetizer plates, and go around the table relating what we are thankful for. Good cheer, comfort, happiness and family- that is our Thanksgiving.
And I realize today that I am thankful for my family. I miss them, their smiles and witty dialogue; I miss my siblings' conversations or arguments and even their fights. I miss discussing books with them and hearing about their lives. I miss seeing them, their curly-haired heads; I simply miss being with them. Such siblings are rare and precious, so beautiful and kind and caring and simply sweet, especially sweet at the times when they think of me, as it is so unexpected and so unearned. So strange to think of their regard for me, a regard that does not match with what they ought to feel for so neglectful and trying a sister.
I feel blessed. I will admit it now, while I retain a certain contemplative and half-sad state, that I do love and do miss my family so very much. Perhaps in the heat of an argument I will not remember it, but it is true, and I say it whole-heartedly: I miss you all. Your auburn hair, your curly locks, our theories and discussions about books, your clever smile and antics, the fact that you are growing up and I missed seeing you clear out my room in search of books that weren't even there. How entertaining that would have been! I miss your charm and your infuriating nature; I find I even miss the sound of you practicing your musical instruments. I miss seeing your changes of expression as different thoughts dawn upon you. I miss my urgent and neccessary discussions with you both, my parents. I miss prancing about and making you all laugh.
I miss the warmth that binds us together; the warmth you took care to create so that we would be bound. I miss the light laughter and the smell of the gravy you had me strain three times while I rolled my eyes and stamped about the kitchen indignantly.
I miss the feeling of participation in something that had a greater goal we could all enjoy. The lighthearted golden motes of air that wafted through the room as we carved turkey or passed plates and exclaimed over the delicacies that graced our table.
And so, though I am happy, and not homesick in any miserable or wretched way, I tell you that I miss you, and I thank you for creating the kind of bonds that tie us so that I do miss you.
It is a rare thing, and you have done it.
You should be proud.