Dr. Fiancé and I flew down to LA today for Thanksgiving weekend. Again, it’s weird (and by “weird” I mostly mean “guilt-inducing”) to travel anywhere other than Iowa to visit my mom, but we made these (nonrefundable) plans long ago, and my mom seems to be doing quite well, thank you very much—no side effects from the radiation, and she has my brother around to shovel the driveway and drive her to doctor’s appointments from now until New Years. (You hear that, guilt? She’s fine! And she'll continue to be fine for the next 10 days while Dr. Fiancé and I take a much-needed, much-anticipated, much-long-ago-planned trip to Mexico!)
Ah, Thanksgiving. A time to enjoy the bounty of the season, to gather with loved ones, to reflect on Thanksgivings past, like last year's, which I spent in the bathroom of my grandparents’ assisted-living apartment unit sipping vodka from a flask my cousin—who had been there before—thoughtfully brought along while my parents and uncle and cousins played Bingo with my 83-year-old grandmother who kept asking my mom who I was and my buttoned-down white-bread some might say uptight 83-year-old retired junior high math teacher grandfather announcing that he would really like to watch When Harry Met Sally because he loves that scene in the restaurant where the blond woman sits at a booth eating her salad and pretends to have an orgasm.
And, oh yes, the year I'd just been dumped by a man I'd contemplated marrying and boldly accepted a “nontraditional Thanksgiving” invitation from some people I barely knew—friends of my second cousin who I met at his wedding the previous year. “No families, no stress, no formality,” they advertised. What they did not advertise was that they’d be sitting around in t-shirts that said “Technosexual: A New Kind of Sexy” watching robots providing running commentary on sci-fi movies (thank you, Mystery Science Theater 3000). They also didn’t advertise that they wouldn’t gracefully accept “no” as an answer to, “Would you like to pose... for some pictures... in the studio?” “I was nervous at first,” one of the women confided, trying to pull me toward the darkened doorway, “but once I got naked it was really fun—and totally empowering” [shove, shove]. If I'm going to pose for porn photos, I'm sure as hell not going to do it for a photographer who fantasizes about having sex with robots. I mean, a girl's got to have rules.
And the Thanksgiving with the Lutheran social service volunteers! The mismatched plastic dishware! The cards at each place setting providing a brief, bloody history of American imperialism! The tape recording of Native American music punctuated by people saying things like, “I’m thankful for smallpox blankets.”!
Tomorrow's Thanksgiving will be my first as a child-of-divorce by-proxy. Originally Dr. Fiancé and his family had planned to continue their tradition of the past twenty years of having two Thanksgivings—two turkeys, two stuffings, two pumpkin pies, two days of self-medicating with Jack Daniels, like so many modern families—but a few weeks ago my Future Brother-in-Law proposed inviting everybody to one central celebration instead. And, much to Dr. Fiancé’s anxiousness, everyone agreed. Fingers crossed, we’re heading to the farmer’s market for fresh produce—the one (and until I met Dr. Fiancé the only) thing I’ve always liked about LA.