Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

The ghost of Thanksgiving past

Happy Thanksgiving. I give thanks that my heat is now working, and I celebrated by staying up until four in the morning working on a short story. Now I’m eating breakfast/lunch before I go to my friend Julie’s house for a thanksgiving dinner later in the day.

This is the eighth year I didn’t spend Thanksgiving back in Indiana with my folks. In Bloomington, I managed to get back north every year, even though some years were a total bitch, especially when I didn’t have a car. And when I made it back, I spent most of the time watching TV and getting slow, not really talking to anyone except maybe my sisters and of course my friend Ray. On the way back each time, I felt ripped off that I put so much time, money, and effort on the line to make the trip, and there wasn’t anything for me.

Once I got to Seattle in 95, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t spend a thousand bucks and two full days on planes just to eat a turkey dinner and then watch TV on a couch for 48 hours. So I laid down the law, and said I wouldn’t come back anymore, which caused some hysterics on the parent front. But even the stock Thanksgiving dinners went away; my mom’s parents were both dead, so the classic trip to grandma’s in Chicago was now just a memory. And the backup, dinner with my stepdad’s family, was also nixed, because my mom divorced him. Even if I did come back, I don’t know what would have been there for me.

In 95, I had dinner with Bill Perry, his wife Jen, and the then-infant Liam. They were also stranded from family back in Indiana, so they cooked a great dinner and we ate in Mountlake Terrace. Nice, small, comfy, and not a bad transition from family to friends.

In 96, I just started dating Karena a month before, so that dinner in Southwest Washington was of the meet-the-parents variety. What she didn’t tell me was that her parents were moving the next day, and needed some manpower to help them dig a few decades of still-unpacked stuff into vans. This was the worst possible move imaginable; every appliance had to move, and her parents were collectors of everything imaginable, all of it still unboxed. It’s hard to pack and move someone else’s stuff, when you don’t know what’s trash and what’s treasure. And it’s even harder when the apartment is a second-floor walkup, and it’s 38 degrees outside. We made at least three or four trips with a caravan of trucks and cars, and the capper was that her dad drove the truck into some grass and broke a water main for the whole subdivision on a Thanksgiving weekend. But after that complete hell, her family had a good respect for me. We had 97 thanksgiving at their new place, and had another great dinner of home cooked food and joking around with her brothers.

By 98, I was dating Marie, and she flew in to Seattle the night of Thanksgiving. We couldn’t find any place to eat, and ended up at IHOP. I think that was her second visit to Seattle, and after I went to her place for Halloween. I was well on my way to moving to New York at that point, and I did in the spring. In 99, we went to her brother’s in DC for thanksgiving, and ate dinner at a fancy Indian restaurant. Turkey Vindaloo – it’s pretty awesome.

In 2000, there was no girlfriend, but me and my friend Rob Reynolds went to the Neptune for dinner. And in 2001, Michael and Marie came into town, and we also hit the Neptune. And now, it’s 2002. That’s the history of the post-family thanksgiving, and I’m surprised I can remember all of that.

Crap, I need to get a move on and haul out of here. Have a good holiday, and don’t eat too much.