Thanksgiving is, of course, about homecoming, and about family. But for the reason detailed in my last post here so very long ago, Thanksgiving no. 35 was unlike any of the first thirty-four.
What to do over this long weekend had weighed heavily on my mind for a while, but was uncertain, given the radically changed circumstances in my family over the last twelve months. My brother moved to the West Coast in August. At the end of September, we closed on the sale of the land on which the Ancestral Palace formerly sat. Though my roots will always be spiritually on Long Island, the temporal roots had pretty much been severed...
... or so I thought, until two Fridays before last. On the day Paris was targeted by the scum of our species, I got an email from my cousin who works for the State Department. She'd attached pictures of standstill rush-hour traffic in Jakarta, where the government had sent her. She also mentioned her return date and plans for the holiday - dinner with her sister - and that I was welcome to get in on those plans if I wished to. Problem solved! Having set my agenda, I didn't think much of what John would be doing; having made a trip back east last month and making another one in December, I figured he'd be content to stay put in Oregon.
Just as the football commenced on Thursday, I walked into an unfamiliar house in Oyster Bay, weary from three hours seated in my car. Though I really would have benefited from having a family tree in my pocket to keep the relationships straight, I immediately felt at home. I especially enjoyed the more civilized timing of the meal. I was told that we were starting at 1:00, but we didn't sit until a little before three, giving us plenty of time to socialize and catch up. I made it a point to show up only a few minutes before one, having heard Adam Carolla complain year after year about his parents arriving 45 minutes early, with the meal nowhere close to being ready. At the same time, I couldn't shake the urge not to be late, because for so long as I can remember, Mom saying "we're eating at 2:00" meant "I'm shooting for 2, but it certainly won't be later - and it might be 1:45."
Between my arrival and our eating, I got a text from John; I let him know what I was up to. He responded with the news that, four days earlier, he'd bought a ticket and flown in. Of course, now I had to go see him. I meandered my way to where he was - so that I might pass through Northport for the first time in three hundred forty-nine days. I made stops down at Village Park and at the plot of land on which I was raised - on which is being built a worthy replacement to the Ancestral Palace. Befitting the styles and preferences of the times, it encompasses both more square footage and more height than its venerable predecessor. When I did finally meet John, he informed me that one of our neighbors is quite displeased with the structure going up, and wrote strongly worded letters to that effect. But we (read: my brother) sold to a relative of his former construction boss, who knows both the zoning requirements and how to stay within them. That neighbor can go... well, let's keep this clean.
John and I caught up with each other while we watched Bears-Packers, followed by a few episodes of Pawn Stars. I ended up crashing there with him, before leaving early the next morning, and finally making my way back down here to Phoenixville mid-afternoon. I'm already looking at PHL-PDX round trips over Christmas; and perhaps more importantly, the trip has left me feeling rejuvenated - a most important feeling, as I and my class head into the home stretch of our license training.