Even though Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (as it is for anyone who loves to eat, drink, make merry, and not have to buy gifts) I’ve never really understood it. I realize one is supposed to trace one’s hand with a marker and thus create the world’s strangest chicken, but all I see is how my middle finger is so much longer than the others. I think that makes me a lesbian. I’ve read the Puritans, I’ve read John Woolman, and I understand that we’re all supposed to wander together in a maze, and wear shoe buckles on our hats. But recently someone on another blog brought up that Thanksgiving was actually the invention of Abraham Lincoln. WHAT? Thomas Jefferson invented everything else and LINCOLN invented this inexplicable but fabulous holiday? [Aside: one of my favorite singer/songwriters in the world, Joe Williams, wrote a song about how much he loves to look at his money, he likes to keep it his pants – the Hamiltons, the Lincolns and the Grants. He describes how each President got a certain sum, and Lincoln may have only gotten the $5.00 bill, and he may not be so pretty but, “He sure opened a can of whoop-ass on slavery, didn’t he?”]
And then there’s all that ‘robbery’ business, about how the Puritans and all the Caucasian peoples who followed them, stole this entire massive country from the Native Americans and I can tell you for a fact that it’s true because I’m sitting right here pretending I “own” this land. MY DIRT. And the people who lived here before me, the majestic and proud Hamdurbulls, are nowhere to be seen. They got marched off to South Dakota or someplace and made to sign “documents” that were really Etch-a-Sketches, and what they lost in the deal was: everything. What they gained was smallpox, inexplicable tooth loss, slavery, mass murder, internment camps, and the introduction of whiskey and guns. So that went well. If I went to South Dakota this very day, I would have to turn over my uterus at the state line, where it would be placed in a “reservation,” and with enough guns and whiskey they might get a little white baby out of it. In places like South Dakota, where leaders of the religious right are trying to outlaw abortion in all cases, it’s only because every itty bitty life is preshus preshus preshus. Except for the millions that aren’t, like the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care, or the men and women on death row waiting for the state to tell them they have done used up their preshusness.
Because of my ongoing confusion about whether Thanksgiving began with William Bradford at Plymouth Plantation, or with Lincoln in celebration of the preservation of the Union, I consider it a holiday personally devoted to me. It’s a day when I eat what I want, make a list of the things for which I myself am grateful. Sometimes I am a Pilgrim, sometimes I am an Indian. I’m allowed to say Indian because at the time of their persecution, they didn’t know they were Native Americans, see, they thought they were People. The moment you begin thinking you’re a Person, you done lost Louisiana, let me tell you.
Thanksgivings with my immediate family were often joyous affairs and periodically fraught with peril. One year my brother and brother-in-law got in an argument and biscuits were thrown. As I recall they were rather tough, as biscuits go. We all now recall the incident fondly, as families tend to do. Now this was a good one: I was, let us say, bound to an extremely unkind man who had done everything in his power to ruin the holiday, ending with marching into the dining room and saying, “Get up. We’re going home.” I said something along the lines of, “But we haven’t even had dessert.” He said, “Then you can walk home, because I’m leaving.” He had spent the meal, while the rest of us were in hysterics with laughter around the dining room table, watching a basketball game in the living room. This is the good part: my brother, who is a very large, very intimidating man, pushed himself up from the table as if in slow motion, never taking his eyes of The Man, and said, “We don’t talk to her that way.” OH HALLAYLOOB, WHAT A MOMENT IT WAS. The Man left, of course, and someone else drove Kat and me home later.
Then all these BABIES started showing up and it became harder and harder to drive from North Carolina to Indiana, and there wasn’t really anyplace for us to stay. I often insisted on bringing a dog as well, if you can imagine (well! I don’t like to be without at least one!), so the tradition began of spending Thanksgiving with my Otters. Except for my children, my Otters are my inner-most inner-circle. Indeed, gay men have been my inner-circle since I was twelve years old: imagine accomplishing that in Mooreland, Indiana. Here are some photographs of the glorious event. From left to right we have the unbearably rakish Robert Rodi, my agent Christopher (I don’t think I need to say much more about my insane love for him), Scott (takes care of much of my life), and John (takes care of all of everything else). And Iorek. He was festive.
Now we have added the delectable Jeffrey, along with Kat, who seems to find it a tad ironic that she’s the only woman and she happens to be holding food. Iorek was probably licking his butt off stage.
No, wait! There he is. He’s thinking about metaphysics. If you look closely in the background, you can see little Puppa! She is small, but mighty.
This was the centerpiece. Of course it’s a real otter. And that flower is the very flower Polly Kahl sent me in the skirt she neither made for me nor mailed to me!
Iorek can MOVE.
Eventually Obadiah remembered to get out of the shower, and he joined us outside. If I were O., I would have nothing to do with adults because I would simply be too fabulous.
Iorek and Cloud completely snoot up on poor Jeffrey.
Baby G. knows exactly when to make an appearance. This isn’t a confession, as it is plainly self-evident, but part of the impetus for always spending Thanksgiving with my Otters is that I do not shop for a single spice, I do not cook one thing, and I do not wash a dish. In fact, I don’t know my purpose at these functions, but I continue to be welcomed.
The food is always INCREDIBLE.
Beautiful Christopher. If you look closely, you can see there’s a photograph of Christopher BEHIND the actual Christopher, which makes him meta.
Heaven only knows what was happening here, but it made us all happy which is what matters.
And here’s something to be grateful for, every single day.
I’ll prepare a photo album to go in the photo album hole (Scott knows) of the adventures of Christopher’s Velma doll with my taxidermy. You won’t want to miss it.
I’d love to hear how you all spent the holiday, or what you are especially thankful for. Just as no child can be loved too much, we can never over-appreciate our abundance. Good lord, I sound like the sort of minister at whom I’d throw gooseberries.