Updated: Nov 6, 2021
How was the Thanksgiving for my fellow Americans? For myself and my husband, Thanksgiving for many years has been dictated by my studio schedule, dependent as it is on holiday sales in this hay-making season. I used to do a San Francisco craft show Thanksgiving weekend, which meant no traveling out of town. Fine by me. I hate to travel when the rest of the country is also traveling. Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled weekend in the US, and even in these covid times, the airports were busier than they've been since early spring.
I don't do craft shows anymore, but the habit has been established to stay put at home Thanksgiving weekend. Back before our friends started having children, we would often host a dozen or more people for dinner, which is my ideal Thanksgiving: a table of friends and a few favored family members. When the friends started in with baby-making, they also began with the standard tradition of spending Thanksgiving with their extended blood relations, and our dinners dwindled to just a few people. Sometimes it was just me, my husband, and my sister. I didn't mind, but also, I missed spending this important holiday with my chosen family.
It occurred to me in September that most of my friends would probably not be spending the holidays with their families this pandemic year, and I immediately checked in with one of our oldest and dearest friends, a couple we've known for over 20 years. The last time we had Thanksgiving together was probably about 14 years ago, the age of their son. Indeed, they would be available, their usual clan gathering cancelled to fit the times. We made a plan to spend the holiday together. My sister, whom I have spent just about every Thanksgiving with, would not be coming from Colorado this year.
As the day approached along with a wave of infections reaching a new peak and our county going into the purple tier with a curfew for added for flavor, we fretted and texted back and forth. I wondered, Is this stupid? Should we cancel? Are we contributing to the problem? We discussed and assessed, measuring our exposure levels, risk, and setting boundaries. Dinner would be a lunch, and it would be outside no matter what. If the weather was too bad, we would cancel. We would limit alcohol, and keep our masks on and distance between us. It would be five adults, one whom would leave before dinner, and one marginally participating teenager. We would not have the marathon get-together of old that could stretch 6 hours or more, but keep it short and sweet. No pressure to do anything special or traditional, just an outdoor lunch with some favorite food. We would sit at our own tables, spaced out in the yard. And that's what we did. And we were blessed with some of the most perfect weather anyone could ask for.
It was the strangest Thanksgiving ever. And it was also wonderful. We have lost so much in this pandemic. So much that I wonder if we will ever be able to fully account for it. And every once in a while we get something too. A new way of looking at things. A new and better way of **doing** things. We are learning so much, some things that we didn't want to learn. But now, we know. It expands our minds, our hearts, and our empathy. And we are so fucking resilient. More resilient than we knew.
And this year, I got to steal my friends back for one very weird and fun Thanksgiving holiday, and that made me very happy.
It's been a week of high numbers.
Infection rates, hospitalizations, death.
This Thanksgiving week has also been noted as the week the Dow Jones hit 30,000, the highest it's ever been. It was described by our outgoing president as a "sacred number".
I have very little time, energy, words, or patience left for the person who will soon leave the White House.
But I have time to understand this: whatever happens in the stock market, it is never a sacred thing, it is only a reflection of the human hive. For the outgoing president to remark in such a hushed and reverent tone on the level of economic activity, while breezing by the end of so many American lives--rapidly approaching 300,000 deaths-- is nothing but a profane and desecrated act.
The helpless rage I have felt about this moment is almost more than I can bear.
Thanksgiving has become a loaded holiday with its layers of historical genocide and oppression, and heavy coating of American style myth-making, kind of like the butter and cream on those mashed potatoes. Trust me, just mash them with some of the boiling water and a little bit of butter and salt and you will be _fine_!
I recently caught on to Heather Cox Richardson. The truth is so much better and more interesting, but they ain't teaching that in school. I'm totally into her, maybe you will be into her too.
Letters From an American_- Daily newsletter, Heather Cox Richardson
November 25. 2020_]- Heather Cox Richardson
_Revisiting Patterns of Change- Heather Cox Richardson interviewed by Preet Bharara
I hope you all are hanging in there. I hope your are staying safe, kind of sane, and covid good. I'm grateful that you read this, that you write to me, and that you are there, holding some space for the things I want to share with you.