Well, here I am, disappearing again for days and days and days at a time. My apologies.
For more mundane but less controversial musings on life in general…my third Thanksgiving away from home has just passed, and was remarkably easier and less depressing than the last two. Last year I somehow ended up alone, which was just lame, and the first year was in Jordan, and as the first just rather miserable overall. But this year we got our nice group of Americans and Israelis and Palestinians and Canadians together, and cooked a big ol’ meal, and ate and drank and photographed until we were about ready to pop. It’s funny to observe after all these years what really makes a holiday a holiday. You think it’s about food, or the specific location or tradition or group of people. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it really is about people; about people you love, family or otherwise, and being comforted by the knowledge that even if the situation isn’t ideal or we have misgivings or the mashed potatoes didn’t come out quite right, there’s really nowhere else we’d rather be right then. This is OUR Thanksgiving and WE made and Goddammit, we’re going to enjoy it. We managed to pull together a roast chicken, stuffing, wine, challah, sweet potatoes, and apple crisp. And hey, if that ain’t Thanksgiving, I don’t know what is.
But it is also lamely tempting to think about it in Thanksgiving-y terms. I was very thankful that I have a mother who cooks, so I knew how to make a roast chicken in a pinch. And I am very thankful for having friends who coerce me into cooking, even when I think I don’t want to. And I am thankful for having people to share food with, because roasting and eating a chicken yourself is pathetic. I am thankful, depressing as it is, to know I am able to survive the holiday season so far away from home; it’s indicative of growth and flexibility and, in a way, buoyancy. It’s hard, for sure, but when you have people to share it with it’s like a whole new thing, a new tradition, a reminder that life is full of possibilities and it’s a wonderful thing to not know what’s coming. Next year will be bittersweet, knowing it’ll be yet another different Thanksgiving experience. Probably not the crazy adventure of trying to make an American Thanksgiving in the Middle East, but (after looking at family photos from this year’s Thanksgiving that I missed) even family changes over time, no matter how static you wish it would stay.
I mean, I’m going back to cousins who are a foot taller and a year older and new babies I’ve never met…will some of these kids even know my name? I’ve missed three years of family events. As grateful as I am for what I’ve been able to do in these past few years, the holiday season really throws the sacrifices I’ve made into sharp relief. No regrets, to be sure. But the constant change and uncertainty is more often terrifying than not. But every year is new, and every year is different, and there’s nothing like making Thanksgiving half a world a way to remind you of how amazing this is.