Fourteen people. One turkey, two ducks, and all the accompaniments, desserts, and Mogen David wine. Add five dogs and an elusive cat (who all thankfully get along), and my friends’ home was alive and merry. Thank goodness for their outside kitchen and grill to help with the cooking. And somehow, in all the organized chaos and merry making, we managed to fit all fourteen of us in the dining room!
What fun it was to catch up with each other’s lives, reminisce about the Old Neighborhood (for some of us) and relate stories of new neighborhoods, our jobs, hobbies, travels, books, this year’s movies, and almost unbelievable current events.
After dinner, a few of the fellas watched the Bears-Lions game or compared car engines in the driveway, while the rest of us either played backgammon, Scrabble, or just floated in the pool and kibitzed. One interesting thing I noticed was that no one was glued to their devices, just an occasional FaceTime hello or an answer to a text or two. Otherwise, everyone was engaged without that distraction.
As evening approached, out came the card tables, poolside, and all the leftovers were available for us grazers. This is when we all exchanged our Christmas grab bag gifts. Entertaining! (Can you blame me for being overly excited to get that vintage edition of the Ben Hecht book I’ve eyed for months?) Next door neighbors walked over to say hello just as the sun set.
It’s back to the party now; Gene’s 3-Piece Jazz Combo is getting ready to play (Gene on bass, Willie Cole on drums, and Sebastian Stuart (a.k.a. Stuart Sebastian) on keyboard. Yeah, I forgot to bring my mandolin (there’s always *something* I forget, you know!) The colorful electric Chinese lanterns are lit, and we’re reveling in the starlit sky and gentile undulating sounds of the water.
There’s a Yiddish saying that one good friend is better than ten relatives. Sometimes, that is truer than not. Though I wouldn’t give up on a few of my relatives, my friends are my precious choices.
Happy Thanksgiving and save me the wishbone!
©2022 excerpt from “A Turkey for Thanksgiving”