This Thanksgiving I will be with Steven's family in Rhode Island, which is lovely. The food & company will doubtless be stellar, and hopefully there will be a chilly walk on the beach.
I can't help missing the seat of most my Thanksgivings: the Big Red House, by now covered in snow and almost sickeningly picturesque. All day will be spent cooking, then an early dinner, and afterward an old Heywood tradition: the reading of Capote's A Christmas Memory, which makes all of us cry like complete sops. Before the vagaries of life and loss set into the story, a search for the perfect Christmas tree figures prominently, which prefigures our own Christmas tree hunt the next morning.
This year the prime players are dispersed between Rhode Island, Nebraska & somewhere in Colombia, or missing altogether. Three characters are gone, two dogs and one man, but the dogs have been gone for years. Gene left only this year.
Without him we will never have another Big Red House tradition, the fireside reading (or, more often than not, recitation) of The Cremation of Sam Magee. That I could do without, I suppose, but I will forever miss our late night talks about topics running from Emily Dickinson to his childhood to the latest show at the Art Institute.
His son, one of my oldest friends, is having a quilt made out of Gene's fantastically worn clothes, by another extremely old friend who sews beautifully. When he described the project, I immediately thought of the quilts of the Gee's Bend, which are made from the homeliest, most worn bits of clothing and flour sacks and anything else that was laying around. They seem to me the perfect marriage of affection to utility, built of humble parts that take on a certain transcendence, not unlike a Thanksgiving dinner.