Even if I were a billionaire, sitting on a beach in Fiji on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day I’d still hate “The Holiday’s.” There’s many reasons that I have not shared with anyone -- not even my whiny psychoanalyst that I ditched a few years ago. She would dot around the subject as November grew close, but I would roll my eyes on the sofa and shake my head.
“Let’s talk about something else.”
I had a few plans this year: my sister and I were scheduled for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner at a fancy restaurant (I like the practice because it feels a little irreverent among the droves of people eating at home) and a party with Bo. Friday I’d planned for lunch with Martine (more on that later) on the Upper West Side. Saturday and Sunday were free.
On Thanksgiving Day I had reservations at Dovetail. I met my sister there, where she was sitting at the bar with a glass of champagne. We had a delightful, long lunch. If I were to name my guilty pleasure, it would be pretentious, fancy food. I live for muted dining rooms, attentive sommelier's, aioli's, amuse bouche’s, confit. At the end of our meal, I was leaning over on the maitre d’s booth as he brought my coat.
“I ate too much,” I said.
Bo was meeting me after lunch for coffee and then Thanksgiving event number two: a house party. We strolled together. On Thanksgiving day everyone was indoors, the store facades were sleeping. It was almost like being the only person on earth.
We were late making it to our dinner party in Hell’s Kitchen, being hosted by Bo’s friend. It was the first Thanksgiving for most of the guests who were ex-pats from far flung places like Burma and Malaysia. Post-dinner we played “Heads Up” (the app version of charades). It’s great what a little laughter can do.
On Friday, I walked into the warm, inviting atmosphere at Sarabeth’s Restaurant on the Upper West Side, and Martine was right behind me. I haven’t seen her since she moved to LA last spring. She felt like my only friend at my old job, we used to talk for hours after work and do brunches in Gramercy. As I’d been saying to Bo all week, Martine is only a few years older than me but always felt like a mentor and older sister.
“Martine makes me feel like everything in my life is going to be OK,” I said to him before our brunch. After talking about our worries as women out in the world, and our jobs, and our lives and our dreams, I left feeling like everything was going to be alright.
The following day Bo and I went to the Museum of Natural History to explore. When Bo checked in at the desk we saw that a Butterfly exhibit was on so we got tickets and beelined there. The museum sealed off a room and filled it with flora and about a hundred butterflies so patrons could roam among them and watch them feed, and mate and rest on trees. I’d done a similar thing as a child, but the butterflies made me flinch nervously when they dipped close to our heads. This time, I bravely held out my hands, hoping one of them would land on it.
On Sunday my sister came by and the three of us shared a meal and laughs. Monday I returned to the office, and at the coffee machine, eavesdropped on my co-workers.
“How did you celebrate Thanksgiving?” one asked the other. A burly, tall man with a thick New York accent shrugged his shoulders in reply.
“Nothing, nothing special,” he said. “You know for me, Thanksgiving is everyday. I’m always grateful, always happy. I don’t need much you know. Just a few things and I’m good.”
I watched him walk away, not realizing that he’d given me the big lesson of every Thanksgiving. I do a lot of attention-getting grumbling and eating. But there’s always someone to remind me -- the holiday has a purpose after all.