Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It wasn’t always. When I was a child, Thanksgiving weekend was reserved as a hunting expedition for my father and brother. They would pack the van and trapse off into the California wilderness in search of quail and pheasant, coming back smelly, unshaven and thoroughly happy with hopefully very few dead birds.
This left my mother and I to our own devices for the holiday and we usually found ourselves at a local coffee shop eating a generic turkey dinner as paper signs advertising milkshakes spun from the ceiling vents. Not a lot of fun, but different from the every day. Typical Los Angeles sunny “autumn” day where the only indication of the holiday was orange paper pumpkins stuck to the windows. We didn’t start having “proper” Thanksgivings until my dad got older and didn’t feel as inclined to camp out in the back of a van for fun. and then my sister and I started taking on the holidays ourselves. I always got Thanksgiving and made the first foray into the dinner that would appear twice before the end of the year, since turkey was for both. We did the big traditional meal and then hang out and play nickel-ante poker, bullshit, and eat pie with my friends who came over later. Everybody adored my dad, and the hours of labor in the kitchen were always entirely worth it because it made him, and all of us, feel happy and loved. Damn, I miss that man.
This all happened under the skies of sourthern California, and while I wasn’t much of an astronomer as a child, I could always fron the constallation Orion in the sky at home. The three stars of Orion‘s belt were what I would pick out immediately when I found it, and I even felt a silly connection to Orion Pictures in the late 70s and 80s. The studio also released the first love story to pierce my heart, A Little Romance, in 1979, when I was in the throes of my own first love.
1. Melancholy memories of sweet childhood kisses from my first boyfriend in 1979
2. The rasp of my daddy’s beard against my cheek when I kissed him hello after a hunting trip, and the feel of his scratchy Pendleton shirt.
3. Warm, salty buttermilk biscuits from a vacuum tube
4. Our working hands around the card table
5. The a table filled with Jewish-Okies laughing under the belt of Orion.