Friday, November 24, 2006
Thanks To Abe and FDR
I remember seeing "Hannah and Her Sisters", a Woody Allen film, when it was released. There was a scene with family and friends having a holiday meal in a New York apartment. I thought at the time it looked very chic and somehow the food and drink looked better than they possibly could anywhere else.
Last night, I was the one greeting my son, Ben, his girlfriend, her parents, my classmate, Yvonne, and her "Mum", Phyllis from Dublin, and two old and dear friends, Charles and Billy. Most of the guests had not met one another before which I always love because it's interesting to see how people connect.
I made the turkey ( for those of you who wondered if I ever found the giblets--yes, I did ), after pouring over the Butterball turkey website to be sure I knew what I was doing. Billy was in charge of the blessing. Charles carved the turkey. We chatted about everything: jobs, children, politics, religion. Yvonne talked about her now two months living in New York City and the contrast to Dublin ( exhausting would be a good summary, I think. )
After dinner, I made a pot of tea. We talked about the china--my Mom's, and my memories of using it growing up. I told them of my sister's generosity in giving me the whole set ( we had each taken half ) so that I would have enough for holidays just like this.
And then, the most wonderful thing happened. In the course of conversation, Billy began to sing "Galway Bay", ( a Bing Crosby hit in the 1940s, and my father's favorite ); Phyllis sang a true Irish ballad about a young woman and love; and I sang " Too La Roo La Roo La..That's An Irish Lullabye". Everyone lingered at the table, not wanting the evening to end, I suppose.
I walked the down the hall, joined my guests in the elevator and bid them goodnight at the front door. Even the doorman cooperated. "Martin," I said, gesturing toward Phyllis. "Meet a fellow Irishman--Phyllis is from Dublin." I could hear snippets of " No, I'm from Rosscommon...been here awhile" as he hailed them a cab back to the Upper East Side.
Yvonne had asked me last week to explain a little about American Thanksgiving. So, after" googling it", I declared that Abraham Lincoln designated it a holiday, FDR modified the date and gave it some legs in the hopes that it would lift the spirits of a disheartened nation.
But I think Yvonne experienced the real deal about American Thanksgiving in a New York apartment on a very rainy November night.