Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday when I lived in the USA. We always celebrated it and there was no religious component to introduce conflict or ambiguity. Oma was a fine cook, and stuffed roast turkey was one of her specialties. Among the regular guests were my favorite Aunt, Reba, and her husband Julius. Julius was my mother's brother, and he and Reba were childless, not by choice; for a while during WWII they took in foster children. They were both warm and affectionate people: Reba more outgoing, Julius more gentle.
Reba and Julius lived in the tiniest two-storey house in Suffolk County Long Island, during the days when it was mostly farmland and fishing docks. Reba's clam chowder was legendary (kashrut was a non-issue in my family), and in summer my brothers loved to go clamming with Uncle Julius at the nearby beaches to provide her with ingredients. Uncle Julius cultivated tomatoes and cucumbers in their disproportionately large garden. He also commuted to his work by Long Island Railroad and this was the glamour part: Uncle Julius was one of the first members of the Theatrical Lighting Electricians' Union, and he got to work the spotlights for Broadway shows. I was too little to go, but my older brothers and cousins remember seeing many a Broadway hit from the booth where Uncle Julius worked.
For the first couple of years of my life, we rented the house right next door to Uncle Julius and Aunt Reba, and my earliest memories are of the sounds of the mah jong tiles, and "Bam" and "Crack" coming from the ladies' games downstairs. It was a coal-heated house, and my mother would arise before dawn in winter to light the furnace in the cellar. It was a real cellar, not a basement, with entrance doors outside. (Does anyone know who said "cellar door" is one of the most beautiful phrases in English?)
Anyhow, back to Thanksgiving. A couple of years after I got married, my in-laws and my parents, my husband and I were all invited to Aunt Reba's for Thanksgiving dinner. At that dinner, with all the most important people present, we announced Big News: I was pregnant with elswhere! That Thanksgiving signalled the beginning of a gradual family transition for me from Daughter to HomeMaker. I was 29 years old.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!