I love this picture of our Thanksgiving a dozen years ago. As all photos, it holds a moment in time. I look at it with a sense of deep familiarity coupled by an equally profound sense of distance. Friends and family gathered at our table eating, drinking, talking and laughing.
I notice the two college freshmen, home from school for the first time, the new high school student flashing her winning smile, my pre-adolescent boy with still plump cheeks. I linger over my now departed sister caught not long before her diagnosis, my niece and nephew in young adulthood.
I think about our friend who took this picture, who also photographed my parents as well as my wedding and that of the pictured first-year coed. I love the warm tones and candlelight, and knowing that the lights out the window are from the Tappan Zee Bridge. It must have been warm, because there is no fire, but I don’t remember.
I see the red paint from an art project gone wrong on the awful chair that my sister sits in. I can just barely remember the puppet that is hanging creepily by the book shelf. I get remembered pleasure from the gilt frame that held my former husband’s ancient hack license with an image of him that we used to joke made him look like a terrorist. Plates, serving dishes and linens that I mostly still have; silver candlesticks that have gone by the wayside along with the ficus tree, the marriage and the house overlooking the Hudson.
So many changes, but we all sit together blind to the future in this lovely moment. As I prepare for a much smaller celebration, awaiting the arrival of two of my kids, I give thanks for the beautiful holidays that I have had: the Thanksgiving that preceded this one, held in our garage with the floors covered with old carpets and the ceilings tented with sheer metallic fabric, lit by tiny Christmas lights and warmed by rented heaters. The holidays shared with our brownstone neighbors that went all night fueled by too much of everything. And my first Thanksgiving away from home when I was a college freshman, captured in this photo:
Yes, I give thanks for all the people shown in these pictures here, alive and dead; for my beautiful sisters with whom I survived our childhood Thanksgivings; for my friends near and far; and for my wonderful family, friends and colleagues in Pittsburgh who have given me the gift of calling my new city home. But most of all I am thankful that my three children will share food with me, whether at my table or over the phone as they nibble the special holiday treats I have sent them. I look forward to giving thanks in my renewed awareness that I have much to be thankful for.