To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Year 4: Part 7: Post 5: Thanksgiving

Yes, the math doesn't quite work out for this post--more than a week went by between this post and last week's post.-D.

I went home for Thanksgiving again. I kind of wanted to take someone home with me, someone who didn't have a family to spend the holiday with, since that's something we do, but I didn't start asking around, making myself available early enough. Everyone who needed someplace to go already has some place. There are many magics around the school I still don't understand, and one is how to make myself available as a helper--people come tome when they want to talk, but not when they need help of any other kind, and so my generosity remains more of a theoretical thing. That bothers me.

I also wanted to make Thanksgiving...more religious. Like, maybe do a Thankyou Doll, since I've heard Charlie does one for Thanksgiving as well as for Mabon. Or do a gratitude service of some kind. Something more than just chatting over dinner about what each person is grateful for. What whatever could have been, I didn't get that organized, either, and the meal went along just about as it normally does.

The only odd thing is that my uncle, the one I had such a hard time with a few years ago, wasn't there. He travels a lot for work, and the plane he was going to take home on Wednesday night was cancelled due to some weather problem. He decided he didn't want to spend Thanksgiving morning on an airplane. I can't say I blame him, but I was surprised at how much I missed him, considering what a pain he can be.

I actually stretched my visit for over two weeks, by catching a ride home with one group of people and catching a ride back with another. I'm going to spend most of January on campus this year, since I've been told there are things I'll have to be there for as a graduating student, so I'm compensating, both financially and socially, with longer trips home over Thanksgiving and Christmas. My ride back, of course, was Allen and Kit, this time without kids or spouses. And this time they stayed for a while.

They've come in for drinks when they picked me up before, two years ago, but that was different. That was my parents self-consciously inviting in people they weren't sure they'd understand or like. But since then my brother and sister-in-law have spent Litha on a picnic blanket next to both Allen's family and Kit's. They've said hello when they bump into each other when my parents come to campus to visit for the day. They've bought and listened to a CD recorded by one of Keven's bands because Kit sings on a couple of the tracks. And so this time my parents invited my teachers in as friends, of a kind. Or at least prospective friends.

My mother had actually suggested, earlier in the day, that I call Allen and Kit and invite them to stay for coffee and dessert. They said yes.

Specifically Kit said "Oh, lovely!" and Allen said "Dessert. I'm in favor of dessert. Also coffee."

So, they came in. They both praised my mother's baking (there was a rather gooey single-layer chocolate cake, served with a choice of coffee-flavored or caramel-flavored ice cream, the pies from Thanksgiving having been eaten already, plus some left-over cookies, mostly oatmeal butterscotch or gingersnap) and politely answered my parent's questions, some of which were strange, and asked a couple of polite questions of their own--how were the grandchildren, how were Cecilly's college applications going, how was work, that sort of thing.

At one point, my Dad asked whether Allen and Kit were married. Evidently, he'd forgotten meeting Kit's husband two years ago. Mom hadn't forgotten, and she looked at Dad in surprise. Allen and Kit looked at each other, then turned to my Dad and, simultaneously, one said yes and the other said no.

"We are married, but not to each other," Allen clarified.

"We're not a couple," added Kit.

Dad laughed uncomfortably and apologized.

"Don't apologize," said Allen, "I'd be honored. Kit, here, is a catch. I simply caught a better one." He was teasing.

"Not as good as the one I caught," teased Kit right back.

"Hmmm, are you suggesting I try your husband?" Allen asked.

"If you can lure him away," said Kit. "I don't think you can."

Two years ago, my parents might have taken all that literally and terrified themselves with the thought that my professors were sex fiends. Actually, I don't know that it couldn't be literal--lots of people on campus are in open relationships, and I really don't know anything about how Kit and Allen arrange their sex lives. Nor do I care. But they didn't mean it to be taken literally, and my parents took it as a joke and busted up laughing.

Ice broken, my parents and my teachers started swapping stories of what Thanksgiving had been like when they were kids. My parents are older, but not that much older, and they had childhood experiences in common. Eventually, Allen talked some about his brother, who liked helping prepare the meal and had his responsibilities which he guarded jealously, and who was inexplicably frightened of the balloons on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The creation of both the cookies and the cranberry sauce had to be scheduled so that the brother could do them without having to be in the house while the parade was on. He couldn't even bear to hear the balloons described by the news anchors. He'd throw an anxiety-fueled fit.

"Why didn't you just not have the parade on?" my mother asked, sensibly.

"Because I'd throw a fit if we didn't," explained Allen. "We had opposite preoccupations. But really, I didn't know the parade bothered him. David was older than I was. I think I was very young, and not paying very much attention, when the tradition was established."

"Your mother must have had her hands full," my Dad said.

I remember, later, Kit in the living room with my mother, old records playing, teaching my mother to swing dance, while my Dad and Allen sat together at the dining room table sipping bourbon and watching the women through the doorway.

"Of course, you realize now I'll have to learn to dance," said my father.

"There are worse fates, said Allen.

I said very little the whole night.

At around ten o'clock, Kit suddenly realized the time and said "we need to stay or go now," and of course that song popped into our heads, and we all had to sing it and get goofy, but in the end we decided to go and I followed Kit and Allen out to the car. Allen had group therapy the next day, so he was staying on campus, but Kit would go home after dropping us off. It was her car. I have no idea where Keven was.

Once we were in the car and had been driving for a few minutes, I asked whether they really just liked my parents, or if they were trying to make friends with them on purpose in order to pull me further into the community. In other words, was what I had just seen socialization or magic?

"That depends," said Allen. "Is the magic working?"

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