In My Ohio

On Stillness and Thanksgiving

Darren C. Demaree
I picked the music for the car rides, and with that I was done.

I went where family had decided to have meals, at the time they decided to eat.

I ate a little bit of everything that every cook made, leaving no room for focus on any one particular food.

I sat, smiled, and talked to relatives of relatives whose names I didn’t know.

I made no mention of anything that didn’t begin with my wife’s name or my daughter’s name.

I left the stash of booze stashed.

I sat on the couches other people were already sitting, and sat closer to those relatives old enough to know that the proximity of family does matter sometimes.

I hugged every grandmother that had become great-grandmothers with the birth of my daughter.

I made sure my mother got hugged more than anyone.

I made sure to steal good, deep kisses from my wife the minute she began to get frustrated with our travels.

I changed diapers.

I took control of my daughter only when none of her grandmother’s was around to take charge on their only grandchild.

I played catch with my six-year old autistic brother for a long time, because every part of a holiday has a specific rhythm to it, and his above all others needs to have a tangible rhythm to it.

I didn’t touch a television remote, but I did sit down when my father-in-law turned on the game.

I made no mention of our dogs to my mother-in-law’s mother, who is convinced the dogs will sell my daughter for a giant pig’s ear.

I called my sister three times, because she was alone in Savannah.

I didn’t call or email or Facebook message any of my friends about their Thanksgiving, because though I am sure we all wished each other well on any of those particular days, people are busy, and sometimes a good friend just leaves you alone.

I slept when everyone slept, and I was awake when everyone was awake.

I didn’t go shopping, not even online.

Thanksgiving began as a one-day holiday, but it lasts from Wednesday to Saturday. It can be a horrific, petty, drunken disaster, and since it leans on Christmas there is no room to recover from a bad Thanksgiving.

No part of thanks or giving can have any agenda or want. This is what I thought I had learned, and this year I did my best to execute that plan.

So, I sat a lot. I ate food when I was hungry. I hugged everyone, and kissed anyone with my last name.

It was lovely, and for sure, the music was damn good.