One of my most memorable Thanksgivings
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Any special day based almost entirely around food is my kind of day. This past Thursday was American Thanksgiving Day and Rick and I had a lovely celebration. His mom came over to dine with us, and I made a fabulous traditional meal which we enjoyed greatly, as well as each others' company. But this blog entry is about a different Thanksgiving. It's about one that, for some reason, I've been thinking of alot this year. It is one that taught me a valuable lesson about just allowing things instead of fighting them. You just never know what kind of experience is in store for you if you'll just go with The Flow...
Thanksgiving 1979 found me at loose ends. I was separated from my first husband, and counting the months till the mandatory year was up before the state of North Carolina would grant us a divorce. My parents devastated me by announcing that, instead of having the traditional family gathering, they were going away for a golf weekend, and no amount of guilt-tripping on my part would budge them. I inquired here, there, and yon to find somewhere to go for Thanksgiving, but everyone I might ordinarily count on had plans that couldn't, for a variety of reasons, include me. I was nearly in a panic thinking of spending my first holiday ever alone! Things were getting down to the wire when a formerly close friend that I had purposefully distanced myself from extended an invitation to Thanksgiving at her on-again, off-again boyfriend's house in the country. They had a tempestuous relationship that was hard to be around, but my desperation prompted me to accept.
It turned out to be one of the most memorable Thanksgivings ever. He was quite an eccentric fellow who was an artist and musician who had once been part of a bluegrass band that had briefly hit the bigtime. His world--and his Thanksgiving party--was populated with fascinating characters, including musicians of all stripes and of various levels of success and fame. He lived in an old farmhouse, and while it was not very large, there was lots of room outdoors. By the time my friend and I arrived mid-afternoon, the joint was already jumping.
It was one of those amazing North Carolina Indian summer days that happens about once every four or five Thanksgivings--sunny and warm--between 60 and 70 degrees, chilling down to the 40s at night, with a certain magical quality of light. As we approached from where we'd had to park, which was some distance away due to the dozens of cars already parked closer, dry leaves crunched underfoot and fiddle, guitar, mandolin and bass sounds greeted us. Along with the music, came the unmistakable aroma of smoke, both from the firepit and from ...well...you know. My memories of that day are redolent with the fragrant wholegrain rosemary bread I had made from scratch as my contribution to the Thanksgiving repast, mixed with that smoke. The trees were strung with lights, there were tubs of beer, and there were dozens of people, all having a great time. And the boyfriend was too busy playing host to get into any skirmishes with my friend. This was going to be okay after all!
Shortly after our arrival, a striking couple dressed in 1930s clothes--he, in a suit with a fedora, and she in an off-the-shoulder dress with a mid-calf, A-line skirt, stood up to a couple of microphones on a crude stage. Tall, voluptuous, and raven-haired with pale skin, she wasn't classically beautiful, but she was, what is sometimes referred to as "handsome." I will describe her as gorgeous in that way that self-confident women who have that certain, indefinable something are. She fairly oozed pheromones, and what confidence! I loved that she wore that glamorous '30s dress with bare, unshaven legs and Birkenstocks--she was way braver and less self-conscious than I! Though the man was extremely attractive, too, it is she who has stuck in my memory, for she had what I wanted. Not only was she as charismatic a woman as I had ever encountered, and emitting energy like a 100-watt bulb, the two of them were clearly crazy for one another.
They announced that they had just finished arranging a song which turned out to be a duet that sounded the way they looked. How can I describe it? It was kind of a big-band-type song, minus the big band. They announced that they were going to perform it for the first time in public for us. They were fabulous, and put on a dynamic show with some of the musicians backing them up. They could have been singing on Broadway, so clear and strong and wonderful were their voices and their chemistry. I don't remember the song--just that it was perfect--and that it filled me up. What a treat! What a memory! It was a rare opportunity, and all the circumstances of my life lined up just perfectly for me to experience it.
When I think back on that day, that performance is what stands out the most. While I do recall sitting around the woodstove inside after the sun went down, listening to the music that played continuously as the musicians jammed in various groups, I don't remember much about the food or anyone I might have met or talked with. I primarily remember the quality of the light outside that afternoon, the smell of the smoke, and the magic of that performance, and the electricity I felt being in the midst of all those creative people. And once I was there, I certainly never felt sorry for myself for not having anywhere else to go!
I don't think I ever thanked my parents--and all the rest of my family and friends--for "abandoning" me that Thanksgiving so that I was free to have that day that filled my senses so.
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