Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Picking Up Strays

Thanksgiving and Easter can often be orphan holidays.

Most of us expect to be home or at least with family on Christmas and maybe over New Years.  However, often Thanksgiving and Easter lapse into those holidays that find families apart perhaps because of time and distance.

The LaComb family entourage spends time on the coast either around Thanksgiving or during the Christmas holidays depending on their own individual family obligations.  When the whole gang is here for Thanksgiving like last year it’s a whirlwind of family activities, assorted adventures and very little quiet time. But when they’re not here it’s an entirely different story. It is still a family gathering but of a different nature.

It isn’t the holiday per se that makes the day different.  Or the drinks and ordure’s ahead of time. Or the meal or the games we often play afterwards. It turns out that Thanksgiving and Easter are no different here than Christmas or New Year’s Eve back in Minnesota. It’s still a wonderful gathering of like-minded friends and acquaintances. They’re just not family.

 It’s a new tradition for us born out of Mother Hen’s need to entertain and the joy it brings to others who don’t have a place to call home on that special day.  It’s become what we do when regular family members aren’t around.

It’s like the lost generation in Paris who gathered for comfort, companionship, and mental stimulation.  It’s like a folk gathering in Greenwich Village or a poet’s corner in North Beach. It’s a modern day version of the Triangle Bar on Saturday night. We’re all ex-pats from different parts of the country brought here for a variety of reasons and simply trying to spend quality time with like-minded souls.

Strays are often a part of that equation.

More often than not, someone will know somebody or a couple here in town that doesn’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving or Easter.  They then become a part of our extended family for the day. This year in addition to our regular group of friends was two new couples. One had just moved here from Minnesota. The other couple was visiting from Chicago.

That’s when Palm Spring’s own version of Martha Stewart west gets to dress her table with relish…literally.  There is Rosenthal China, Waterford Crystal, antique silver settings, antique salt cellars, individual silver butter knives and place cards with crystal bowls. She would say presentation sets the mood. It’s light, festive, warm, and welcoming.

For that brief afternoon, we’re all gathered among friends or newly made acquaintances sharing a bountiful meal and enjoying one another’s company.

When the day ends and we all disperse back to our regular lives, we’ve been enriched by that shared experience and the joy of giving.

I recently found out that young people nowadays have a new name for Thanksgiving.  They’re calling it ‘Friendsgiving.’

I like that.

It’s a fitting description of what we do here in the desert.

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