Thanksgiving has as much a certainly historic point of view for those of us in the United States as it does a familial focus. For me, the holiday is those things, but also a symbolic calendar notation of when my family tree grew to create me. My parents were married on Thanksgiving Day some fifty odd years ago and no matter where I find myself in life, my thoughts turn to my parents and their union this particular day. A day when two families gathered to celebrate a union, but also to enjoy a very large traditional holiday meal. Obviously I was not there, but there are photos capturing the essence of what transpired, just as all wedding photography tends to do in making a moment linger into perpetuity.
Some years we were able to celebrate this Thanksgiving/ Anniversary together as a family, some years we were not. The later more true after my mother passed away. If I was honest with myself we'd not found a way to reconfigure ourselves as a family successfully after my sister died just ten years prior. So in some ways the familial Anniversary/Thanksgiving I cling to so reverently is but a fading memory of what I wished it to be, the original two plus their offspring, under different circumstances and all in good health.
However sad that may sound it actually has provided a leaping point to establish new traditions over the years that incorporate many outside the familial bloodline. Thanksgiving is more about friendships and the family-like structure they provide when your own is disconnected or deconstructed. David Brooks, New York Times Op-Ed columnist expressed it best in a recent column The Age of Possibility, "We are inevitably entering a world in which more people search for different ways to attach." I would add to Mr. Brooks well crafted words, that attachment may for some not come from a mind set of keeping their options open, but from a strong desire to resemble what they hold dear.
So I gathered with friends at Thanksgiving with my cranberry sauce contributions: 1) Mingled (cutie oranges, blueberries, craisins~dried cranberries, Agave syrup, Cointreau and cardamon); 2 & 3) Homemade berry relish and jellied (prepared from a grocer fresh berry bag, mashed and strained); as well as 4) Ocean Spray's canned. A single Thanksgiving side dish prepared in multiple ways intended to appeal to an assortment of personal desires. In other words, multiple options to attain that singular cranberry sensation.
Thankful for attaching in meaningful ways.