First, a few ground rules on the ideas of Thanksgiving & traditions.
Thanksgiving is defined as the whole holiday weekend in November when you spend LOTS of time with a lot of people you care about. Sometimes it’s too much time, but that’s all relative to the people you’re hanging out with.
Traditions… well, there’s a fuzzier shape here, but I’m defining tradition here as anything that you do consistently for two “annual” events, in this case, the annual Thanksgiving weekend.
That being said, let me tell you the Turkey Tale of the West Coast version of the Hansen Family Thanksgiving Traditions.
We decide on our menu and buy the supplies days in advance. Because our festive crew only amounts to a max of four (so far), we do Cornish game hens instead of a big turkey. (Plus the torture these hens are put through is by default on a smaller scale than that of turkeys, because they’re smaller birds. Perfectly logical.) But we have all the other traditional fixins. Green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Makes me hungry just typing it. Oh, and we also buy at least 6 bottles of relatively cheap wine.
As far as the group, my sister comes up from L.A. This year it was just the three of us, last year Shorty had just moved in so he was here too… but the group is small enough that we can all be in the kitchen & dining room at one time, we can all chip in on the feast-making, and we have just enough people to make board games and drinking games interesting.
On Thursday, we got up and volunteered. This year was the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Park Trot (which is usually a Beach Trot, but because of the oil spills, it got moved to the Polo Field in GGPark). Got up at 5, I got us lost trying to find the south end of the park (I swear Lincoln Way doesn’t go east all the way to Stanyan, but whatever) so that we arrived about 10 minutes later than the official volunteer show-up time of 6:30. Made no big difference, except that I was quite nervous that I had already tainted the day of celebration – the whole race thing was my idea, I was responsible for getting everyone up & getting us there & making sure we had fun & felt like we made a difference. No small task. But in spite of R’s discontent with my bad directions, we arrived bright-eyed & bushy-tailed, ready to help.
We met a girl named Robin (a significant first name for us) who was there setting up the t-shirt tables, and Steve The Volunteer Coordinator Guy said we could help her finish setting up & then our group would become the T-Shirt Distribution Hub, complete with the authority that comes with a big black marker to mark off bibs, which dubs them as Those Who Hath Receive-Ed Thine T-Shirts. At this point, we were very excited.
Our excitement shone through in SPITE of the chilly temperatures and brisk breezes that were quickly numbing our hands, fingers, toes, even as we deftly maneuvered all of our body parts to set up tables, break open boxes, break down boxes, and expertly display The T-Shirts in corresponding Piles Of Cottony Girth.
Our Newfound Friend Robin was from Beaverton, Oregon (a HUGE running locus and yet another significant characteristic of our fellow Angel of Apparel). She joined us in dancing clumsily to the tunes bursting forth from the DJ’s Spire of Sound, which consisted of Rat Pack Classics, random holiday carols, and tunes from the Father of Christmas Sound himself, DMX. As all these elements came together into our Volunteering Valhalla, we knew we’d be in for a special experience.
The Time When The Siren Wails & The Turkey Trots was approaching, and our first supplicant arrived to retrieve her garb, in a Size Medium variety. She was 60 minutes early for the race, and was stereotypically an Asian woman. (A brief note on the applied stereotype: when there’s free sh!t involved, such as aluminum cans in recycling bins worth a nickel, Asian women of San Fran are typically the ones who will get up / arrive earliest to claim the free wares and clutch them closely in the name of providing for the family of which she is so proud.)
We donned upon her our T-Shirt from the Pile of Cottony Girth, variety Size Medium, and we witnessed the first of what would be many Appreciative Countenances. They came in many shapes & sizes, and some even came costumed as a Gravy Boat, as a Turkey, as Santa, and my personal favorite, as a Deviled Egg. It was a joyous group of Those Fit To Run/Walk. Some donned their T-Shirt, some carried it as a Proud Badge of Involvement, and some took it home to Those Too Fat To Run/Walk. But all left with Appreciative Countenances, and usually with a parting Grateful Remark.
As the Turkey Trot finished and the volunteers, full of woe that their opportunity to Serve Thy Community had ended as swiftly as Those Fit to Run/Walk could Run/Walk the 5K, began cheering themselves up by partaking in the leftover Bounty of Free Crap Bestowed By Frivolous Corporations (BFCBBFC). Clif Bars, craptastic Vegetable Waters, and completely non-Semitic bagels, all free for the partaking, and they partook with great fervor.
Laden with our leftover BFCBBFC, we hustled back into the Holiday Hybrid, warming ourselves with fumes from the non-polluting batteries. We arrived safely back in our nest, where we basked briefly in the glow of having Served Thy Community.
We then proceeded to make lots of food, get wasted, and continue eating lots of food. And it was good.