Wonderful predictability

Thanksgiving used to be hard for me. I don’t mean in the “I hope my stuffing turns out all right” kind of way, but more in the gypsy, I-don’t-know-where-I’ll-be sort of way. I haven’t spent it with anyone in my nuclear family (parents, sisters) since 1972. My parents moved to North Carolina in 1974. When I was working retail (1980-1987), I always worked so-called “Black Friday”, so going far was never an option.

1980- With my girlfriend at the time and her son, but clearly at a point prior to breaking up, which happened four days later. That girlfriend used to, and probably still does, remember JFK in her blessing; the assassination was 43 years ago today.

1983- With with what turned out to be a short-term girlfriend, awkward first meeting of her family in the Bronx. We broke up about five weeks later.

1988- Don’t specifically remember, but I do recall getting a phone call telling me that my friend Nancy was dying of cancer; she passed on New Year’s Day, 1989.

1994- Awkward first meeting of the girlfriend’s family. At least we didn’t break up until a year and a half later. (And we got back together – that was with Carol.)

1996- Invited to Thanksgiving dinner a few days earlier, then at the last minute, the offer was withdrawn, for reasons I never understood. I sat home, sulked, and ate Chinese takeout. The only year since 1973 I’ve watched both NFL games in their entirety, which is NOT necessarily a good thing.

It’s not that every Thanksgiving was a bad experience. 1982 at the home of my previously-mentioned friend Nancy with other “orphans”, 1987 with an Alice’s Restaurant number of folks in Oneonta, a couple years in a row with friends Steber and Jean from church in the early 1990s.

But since 1998, it’s either been at our house, or more likely, at my in-laws. A certain predictability. For this regularity, I am most thankful.
I’m thankful for Robert Altman, who died this week. I’ve seen only a handful of his films, all in movie theaters, but I’ve enjoyed each, in their own way:
MASH (1970), California Split (1974), Vincent & Theo (1990), The Player (1992- probably my favorite Altman film), Gosford Park (2001), A Prairie Home Companion (2006) . I tried to watch the acclaimed Nashville (1975) this summer on TV, but wasn’t able to do so. I wondered if he was a director who needs to be seen in the cinema. Then I discovered that he used to be a TV director. Surely, I saw some of episodes of The Millionaire, Maverick and Bonanza that he piloted. I’ll try Nashville again sometime.

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