Hallelujah. We are at the beach.
It’s cold and windy and raw but also stunning glittering relaxing welcoming. We were married on this beach in a similar setting: sun setting fast, freezing feet, wind whipped vows and then huddling together for warmth. Of course, that week the wind gave way to cool mornings on the deck watching birds and dolphins while this week holds fast refusing to budge (even for the birds and dolphins – not a one in sight). Then, there were heaps of shells. Now, there are sheets of sand in the air. It’s worth mentioning that then it was March and now it is the late part of November. The promise of spring is very different than the threat of winter.
We are here with the wolves and, unlike my own family (the foxes), no one blinks if you disappear for an hour to your room to tell the internet how much you are grateful to them for being awesome and inspiring and kind (p.s. I’m talking about you. You’re also humble which is cute.) The wolves have their own set of perils. Anything sweet is devoured in moments – whole cakes, liters of soda, pans of danish. Naps are not naps so much as Rip Van Winkle-ish fadeouts that could last all day (see: sugar intake). Laughter is loud. Pants are too small. Butt cracks are plentiful. Violence is threatened. Constantly. On the whole, it’s quite peaceful. The foxes are a different story altogether but, since they are safely away, we don’t have to delicately manage each day and that’s enough said about that.
Despite the family differences, I was surprised to have a thought I hadn’t had before. I know that sounds ridiculous but this was a spark of OH, OF COURSE that surprised me in its obviousness. For all of its good wonderful fantastic (ad nauseum, yes we know, Thanksgiving) qualities, this day always seems to drag, bolt, and then drag again. And it doesn’t matter if it’s wolves or foxes. The morning holds promise and good will. Folks have breakfast, make plans, talk football, talk turkey. There is some debate over who has the best turkey technique and usually a resounding trump card that is followed by a good-spirited, “and since I’m in charge of the turkey, I’ll do it my way!” By 11, restlessness sneaks in. You’re committed to cooking something or prepping something or talking more football. You can’t go out now. Nothing is open. Someone is hungry, rummaging the refrigerator in hopes of something substantial and only finding a giant bird bossing around the cranberries. Everything else has been consumed in order to make space. Someone else is proclaiming that they are saving room for the big event. Those people are usually watching football. Time drags.
But then, lightning fast, food comes out, steam goes up. Silverware clatters. Someone says grace. Someone kicks someone over a potato delivery delay. Laughter. Food. More food. A short break to catch your breath. Clear the table and clean up the kitchen. Dim the lights and embrace the dessert ritual: Will you have pie? And you will. Of course you will.
And then time stops. He is asleep. She is dealing cards. The clever ones have gone out for a walk, perhaps looking in windows for early Christmas trees, speculating about a neighbors overflowing mailbox. The final load of dishes hits the sink and, as usual, there are not enough forks if there are to be seconds of pie, so nothing sits. By 7, the table is clear, the kitchen is clean, the people are settled, it’s as if nothing ever happened. And so it will go until the first person gives up (but it will be a long time until the second one goes, the one that topples the crowd) and you’ll be restless and wishing that something would happen, but it doesn’t and, foxes or wolves, it never will.
You know what makes you even more wonderful? That your families and traditions are completely different. Sometimes, it’s that very thing that brings my own into such sharp focus. It’s a happy focus. A rosy instagram. A blissful gratitude for the fortune to have family and food and wealth in abundance. It soothes the year’s losses – hell, the last five years. You soothe those things. And so my friends, have a happy Thanksgiving, even if you are with the wolves, moreso if you are with the foxes, and especially if you weren’t part of the group that took a walk after supper hoping for the chance to wave merrily at a neighbor and, in exchange, catch some holiday cheer. Happy Thanksgiving from the beach.