Friday, December 5, 2014

Tribal Summit

My sister Deborah above me, brother Josh next to her. Hannah is at the bottom right. Michelle is holding the center.

I used to hide from Thanksgiving. For years after I stopped working at Whole Foods, I hid in my room on T-day, cooked rice and veggies and watched Hugh Grant movies. It was true then and still true that the traditional feast is repugnant to me. I can't digest any of those foods. Also I saw so many dead, raw turkeys at Whole Foods, the idea of facing a cooked one was unbearable. I was a Thanksgiving grinch.

One year my housemate invited his extended Puerto Rican family for Thanksgiving dinner at the house on Tennessee Avenue. Well, that event was a game changer. It was so much fun. There was turkey, also a gigantic ham, rice and beans, and a lot of booze. A lot. I had no idea what was being said, since I do not speak Spanish. But I could feel the energy of blissful celebration. Those Puerto Ricans know how to blow off energy. They know how to party. Yeah.

It was an epiphany. All of a sudden I realized I could actually enjoy Thanksgiving. It was a healing experience. I've enjoyed the holiday ever since, for the last two years in the Cascades of Oregon, at a cabin on Crescent Lake. Last year it was my sister Hannah's family including her daughter, husband and grandkids, minus her son, wife and grandkids. And the dogs, of course.

This year the ante was upped. My sisters and brother flew in from hither and yon to join our jolly company. It had been years since all of us converged in one room. We are a Jewish family, hence we are much like the Puerto Ricans, everyone talking at once, lots of laughter, hooting, and such.

In fact the way it turned out should have been a perfect storm: eight adults, two children and three dogs, stuck for three days indoors in a space that comfortably accommodates six. We had planned to get out for walks, but the weather insisted we stay in. An icy rain fell almost non-stop during our time on the mountain. You can not argue with the weather.

I was rattled. There were so many conversations ongoing at any one time, plus the TV, games with sound effects on devices, dogs barking and maybe someone playing the guitar. All at once.

All at once.

My life is pretty quiet. I do speak to people, of course, though usually it's one at a time. When I work, no one talks. Spoken language is very difficult for me in the best of circumstances. Oh I was rattled. In spite of that, I managed to behave decently except when I broke down a couple of times and started lecturing. Fortunately I caught myself fairly quickly.

There were moments of similarly ungraceful behavior from others in the group, but mostly we were all on our best behavior, determined to relax and enjoy ourselves. The ancestors kept their distance except on the last night when everyone had gone home except me. My sister, brother-in-law and I watched Annie Hall. I felt, afterwards, this was our nod to those responsible for placing my siblings and I in the same family. That movie is so good. If you haven't seen it in awhile, I recommend it. So many iconic scenes in that film. Fabulous.

It snowed the last night we were at the cabin. It was gorgeous.

OK then. I have learned to enjoy Thanksgiving even in circumstances that are very difficult for me. It was wonderful to see my siblings, all of whom I love, and fantastic to spend time with Hannah's branch of the family.

... and ...

It is so good to be home! I even smiled at the Pentagon from the plane as we made our final approach. The big lunk. Awww. DC is home. There is no place like it.

I don't like traveling but it is good for me. It's very good to connect with my family. It's great to be home, it was great to be there. Onwards to solstice.


A blurry picture of my niece Emily and her husband Brayce. Magnificent humans!


  1. All hail the Puerto Ricans! It sounds like you had a very full time there at Crescent Lake. Next time you come maybe we can figure out a quiet time to wander the trails at Finley Refuge, between Corvallis and Eugene.

    1. How I would have loved it, Kerry. It just didn't work that way. I was like a deer in the headlights by the end of the week. It's no one's fault - I was just overloaded. I know you know what I mean! Next time!

    2. I do know just what you mean. There will be other times. :)