The opening number of Fiddler on the Roof, is “Tradition”. Without benefit of the audio, to give appropriate emphasis it should be “TRADITION!”. (I’m still too technologically retarded to put in the one word link that would take you to the You Tube video.) My first Thanksgiving in Chicago, back in 1995 started a new tradition. I had Thanksgiving with my then landlords and friends, Susan, Sam and their son Graham. Graham was five or six and was the greatest kid. (Now he’s a great young man.) They always have a good ‘family’ sized crowd of a dozen people plus, any given year. They had already dubbed me as “The Upstairs Chef”, as I’d bake and leave goodies for them in the foyer table when I lived there. I offered to make pies. The pies were a hit. After dessert was served, Susan feigned incredulity and jealousy and said, “I used to be the ‘pie queen’ of this building!” My TG role was solidified, and a new tradition was created. My subsequent TG plans were set, even after I moved two years later when I bought my first condo. They were part of my ‘family of choice’, and their extended family and friends became mine by extension. Susan’s Mom, especially took to me. Unfortunately she and her partner were not able to make it this year.
For the past two years, family of origin obligations took me ‘Bumblefuck’ for Thanksgiving. This year, I stayed home in Chicago and was able to regenerate our Thanksgiving Tradition. Of course I brought pies—only two this time (Shredded Apple [another TG tradition of mine], and Caramel Pecan) as other guests were bringing a version of Pumpkin pie. Sam’s sister, when she and her family arrived, generously and genuinely said, “It’s so good to see you again! I’ve been anxiously waiting for your pies.” The sentiment was echoed by Paula and Howard, other friends of SS&G who have become TG “regulars”.
I love this Thanksgiving gathering. It’s comfortable, relaxing, and there’s NEVER any drama. There’s laughter. There’s gratitude. There’s love and affection for old friends and new. I’m able to be myself. They ask questions of me without being intrusive. More importantly, they don’t ignore me or aspects of who I am. There’s never any pretense.
We have some beers beforehand, while noshing on hors d’oeuvres, wine with dinner, and since I’ve turned Sam on to single malt scotches, he usually has new one to try with dessert. (My parents are teetotalers—so there’s no imbibing in Bumblefuck.)
After a two year hiatus, I am thankful for the revival of "TRADITION!". I’ll lift a glass of Scotch to that.