The Albuquerque Version
As I work on this column, I am sitting in the kitchen of
my oldest friend in the world, Sarah Malone, and her husband
Jim. Sarah and I have never not known each other and have
been friends from before we marched off to kindergarten in
a rain storm sometime back in those Fabulous Fifties [more
fab in retrospect than in the living, I suspect].
Adrift, this year, for Thanksgiving, Sarah phoned me and
requested/demanded/ordered my appearance for Thanksgiving.
Sarah is physically petite and monumentally forceful
just ask her son Kevin, who fondly calls me Uncle Mat
out of emotional kindred-ness rather than that of blood.
It is the night before Thanksgiving and while I am sipping
a lovely Beaujolais with Jim, hundreds of thousands of people
are making their way from one home to another, struggling
with a storm back east that is making a Holiday mess.
Personally, I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite Holiday:
celebration without need for gifts, good food and a four day
weekend, while surrounded by the people whom we love and who
often drive us mad.
It is a time when we can all revel in our personal and familial
dysfunctions, groaning over the peculiarities of Aunt Ethel,
while at the same time loving them for being part of the tapestry
of our lives.
Sometime in the years I lived in California, I made Thanksgiving
MY holiday, as important, if not more so, than Christmas.
I love the sense of gathering and that the gathering is to
say thanks to the universe for what we have.
We are remarkably lucky, we Americans. While this is a Holiday
which drives most of us to some distraction, due to the travails
of travel and the frustration of family, it is also a special
In the days since 9/11, the Holiday has seemed more important
to me. It was the first major Holiday following that
dark moment and in the national pain we gathered together
with more meaning than ever and with more sense of importance
than ever. That lingers.
This column was born in those days, and I recall preparing
the first Thanksgiving in Claverack Cottage, a gathering of
friends and loved ones, nestled together against the darkness
we all felt outside our personal pools of light.
It is four years on and we are all, I think, aware of the
dark that is in this world. While we have been spared to date
more 9/11s, we have had the misery of Madrid and the
loathsome London day when bombs went off in The Tube.
Far away, there is a war being fought and the death toll
climbs with every day, both for our soldiers and the civilians
caught in the nightmare Iraq has become as if it would
have been anything else. [In 1920, the British experienced
much of what we are experiencing in Iraq and we might do well
to read their reports and learn their lessons.]
It is Thanksgiving and the world is as dark a place as it
was in 2001; it is less immediate than that year but just
Part of my love of Thanksgiving is that it is a time to pause,
to rest, to give thanks and to put in perspective our lives.
I am deeply grateful for my life; even if there are personal
I am also thankful I was born American, even if now I feel
more challenged than anytime since Viet Nam. It is my hope
that out of these travails and tribulations, we can emerge,
eventually, stronger and more robust, as we did post-Viet
It is one of the more interesting things about this country;
we seem to emerge from crisis better than we did than before.
This one is challenging but so have others. Hope for the future
is something we can be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
This past week, Al Adams, one of the great media guys out
of San Francisco, passed away. He had been fighting, I found
out, ALS [Lou Gehrigs Disease] for the last two years.
He was a creative, funny man with an always odd sense of humor
that took a moment to understand. I knew him best in the 1980s
when I was working for A&E. He will be missed by many,