The Thanksgiving montage I remember from my first decade was deep in snow. We went to visit a relative of my stepmother several years running. This woman ran a youth hostel, and my stepmother’s large Italian family converged upon it for the holiday.
What I remember:
- A long, long table filled with so many people, food extending the length of the runway.
- Joining in the running about like a child.
- Sleeping in the bunk beds of the dormitory.
- Driving, and crawling out of the backseat stiff and surprised by the scent of the air.
I’ve harbored all my life a deep nostalgia for a white Thanksgiving. Nostalgia in women, my therapist posits, is a form of sadness for that which never was. This would explain my talent for nostalgia.
So much never was in my childhood.
This year, there is snow. It began midafternoon, after I’d spent the morning baking pies and popping cranberries. Now, it is discretely yet insistently layering itself outside while my children sleep and my husband stretches out of the couch.
We took the kids out to dinner tonight, sitting with three beautiful little people around a table. Tomorrow, I’ll get up early to snowshoe in the fresh powder. I’ll listen to the quiet. I’ll cook the turkey for 4:00, so he can take them up the mountain to ski. We’ll eat together then watch Cosmos, tired and full and wrapped in flannel.
Eating out. Skiing. Vacation. Leisure. Choice. Astrophysics and flannel.
This is not the life I was supposed to lead. This was not the path laid out for me when I was six, eight, ten—the ages my children are now.
Safety. Comfort. Love.
These were not the things I was supposed to have. I look around at my life, and I don’t recognize it as belonging to the child I was. The privilege I live in now is as soft and fresh as a late November snow, and I was never supposed to have it.
This white Thanksgiving eve, what am I thankful for?
I couldn’t possibly answer a question that large.