This is the first year in about 5 that my wife and I have done Thanksgiving just alone, the two of us. We've always sort of glommed on to the greater holiday celbration at either my Mother's house or my Sister's...my wife has no family here. Plus, she's not a lifelong American...She was born in Israel and only moved to America about 11 years ago, so Thanksgiving is not a big, let alone ingrained, thing for her.
This year is different. My family's dynamics have been upended by a divorce between my sister and her husband,,and we are all coming to sorts with the aftermath. As a result, everyone is fending for themselves this year, which is a bit sad but okay at the end of the day.
But, sticking close to home this year, what it has made me notice for the first time is this...
There are a lot of people in my neighborhood who either do Thanksgiving alone, or don't much do it at all. I never knew.
There are a lot of people who "celebrate" Thanksgiving by themselves. Some are elderly, some aren't. Some are college students. Or younger people who, for what ever reason, are on their own. Maybe they choose to be...I can't say. All I can say is what I observe.
My next door neighbor is a Vet, and his Mom moved in with him about a year ago after he and his girlrfriend split up. She's about 6 years older than me, which is to say she's about 62 or 63. She's a nice lady...but a little reticent. She's worked her whole life in retail banking. Had a couple of husbands...didn't work out. This afternoon, after having spoken to her son, who is really my friend, and knowing that he was going elsewhere for Turkey Day and she was on her own...I knocked on the door. My wife and I...well, really I, had cooked a smallish but still bountifull dinner, with pumpkin pies. I wash concerned that she was just sitting over there alone, with nothing on the stove that spoke to the Holiday we all celebrate.
She came to the door and we spoke for a bit, and she assured me she had just eaten, and had made a "single person Thanksgiving meal" the night before. I wasn't sure whether I believed her or not, but what do you do? But as I was about to turn away and return home she said something to me that made my day. She told me that she gives thanks for having such good neighbors. She said, as well, that she's lived in lot's of places, and this neighborhood feels as good and as comfortable as any she's ever lived in, and she thanked me for being so friendly and attentive. She allowed that she is sort of a private person, herself, and hasn't reciprocated as much as she'd like in the past year.
And then she, quite unexpectedly, stepped forward and embraced me, and gave me a hug.
On the other side of the property, there is another mixed family of elder lady whose hardluck son has come back home to roost. She has, in the past 12 months, noticed a slip in her memory, and her doctor has told her she is likely sliding down the path of Alzheimers. We speak, and are friendly, but it's not like we are big friends. But I was watching her house today, as well, just to see what was going on. Not much of anything, as much as I could tell. Her son was working...he travels a lot as an independent contractor working for banks who have repossessed homes. He was gone all day until about 4:00 PM. His 20 something daughter also lives there, and I never saw any lights on in the kitchen all day long. Maybe they went out to dinner.
There's another lady down the street...she is probably about 65, and a real spitfire, even though she has some health issues. She has a daughter who lives not far away, and provides daily childcare services for her daughter and son in law. I noticed her car was still in the driveway at about 4:00 PM as I was walking down to the corner for some cigs, so I stopped by and knocked on the door. She watched 2 of the presidential debates with us, and is really a fun lady. I was concerned she might, for some inexplicable reason, be on her own, and the dinner I had prepared was almost ready to plate up.
So I rapped on her door. The TV was on, and from her side door, which is glass, I could see inside. Clearly, she was home. But nobody answered. I hesitated, and then knocked again. All of a sudden she rounds the corner from her hallway and is naked as a jaybird...just out of the shower. She didn't know what to cover first, and darted back around the corner...only to come back a minute later fully clothed and amazingly composed. I had to laugh, and told her it's too late to cover up now...I pretty much saw everything there is to see. She laughed, and I invited her up to dinner if she had no plans, but as it turned out she was getting ready to go to her daughter's house.
About 15 minutes later she drove by my place, and I waved her to stop at the end of the driveway...I approached her car and she rolled the window down...and I said to her: "I hope you take this the right way, but I feel uniquely qualified, at last, to say that you still have a great ass." She laughed.
But, in all seriousness, this is the first Thanksgiving that I have spent here in my own neighborhood over the past 6 years...my wife and I have always gone elsewhere. It's a working class neighborhood. With a good mix of ages, from retired folks to college students and everything in between. This year, just looking around,I have noticed more people than I would have expected who just sort of punch the clock on Thanksgiving and treat it like just another day...
There are many, many people out there who don't have either family or friends on a day like this. And then there are those on the street.
I'm thinking of them right now. I can't make it right for the world, but I'm taking a pumpkin pie next door right now to Darlene. As for Gail...the neighbor with the great ass? If the pie's all gone by tonight, I may have to make some banana bread just so I have an excuse to knock on her door tomorrow.