On the way home from Dublin yesterday I heard a commercial on the radio for "Black Friday Week Sale."
So much wrong there. Without Thanksgiving to constrain it, what's to stop Black Friday Week from disordering the whole month of November?
How I remember Leftovers Day: rainy walks on the beach, cuddling with friends watching a stack VCR movies, a third pumpkin pie slice. I pitied people who insisted on putting on shoes and going to the mall. What a waste. The best day off of the year.
Last Saturday night, we hosted a crowd of friends to a Thanksgiving feast. (It would be too hard for folks to come to dinner on a random Thursday afternoon.) Most of our Irish friends had never attended one and were excited to sample those dishes showcased in every US holiday movie.
Artemis cooked a traditional menu, beginning with a 28 pound turkey our village butcher found for us over in Lifford. Irish people eat turkeys only at Christmas, so we had to get a special order. She named him Liam, and he just fit into the oven.
Artemis made stuffing, roasted sweet potatoes half-covered with marshmallow, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, turkey and mushroom gravies, dinner rolls, and a mountain of mashed spuds. Everyone seemed to love everything, and the table fell silent a few times in that way of people digging in.
Outside of those quiet moments of mastication, we praised the chef, learned that cranberry sauce isn't jelly, and speculated on the pies we were leaving room for. Artemis had buy cans of pumpkin online because it's not eaten here. Imagine a world without pumpkin spice lattes: that's Ireland. She also had to send away for pie tins. "American pie" is not eaten here: a wide shallow pan with a sloping side. Tart pans with straight sides are everywhere.
I was asked about the roots of Thanksgiving, so I said it was first instituted by Abraham Lincoln as a national holiday during the Civil War. I explained that it commemorates that time when Native people helped the pilgrims from England in the 17th Century; most of our guests knew that story and identified with the Native Americans.
It was a perfect Thanksgiving, without shopping or football or family drama. All we needed were our friends back home. We love living in Ireland, but we miss our friends most deeply on these days that remind us of dinner parties in 707's dining room, with a window seat always long enough for one more, and a table too wide for a cloth, and all the shining faces encircling it.