My first Thanksgiving took place nineteen years ago. I was a 24-year-old graduate student, recently arrived at Brown. One of my officemates and her husband insisted that I and a Swedish grad student accompany them to her parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. It snowed that day, the first snow of the winter. We set off in what seemed like a blizzard, up I-95 into Massachusetts. The day was cold, but the reception was warm. A houseful of Patrice’s relatives made us most welcome.
Ever since, I’ve always sat down to a large, convivial dinner at Thanksgiving. At first, others welcomed me into their homes. For the last decade, Emma and I have played host to others who, like us, have no relatives in the area.
In the early years, Thanksgiving had little emotional resonance for me. It had not been part of my childhood. Unlike Christmas, it had no deep-seated associations for me. I had no family traditions to draw upon. I had not grown up eagerly anticipating Thanksgiving every year.
Now, I do look forward to it. Thanksgiving is a fine day to beat back the winter gloom, to share in the warmth of our friends. Halloween and Christmas are rankly commercial, but the merchants have never managed to draw Thanksgiving down to the same depths.
I give thanks for my lovely wife, for my health and prosperity, and for my dear friends.