When I was a kid, my family celebrated Thanksgiving in Ruckersville, Virginia, at a place called Hannah’s Rest. Hannah’s Rest was named after a dead person (duh), which already made it cool, but also it was the home of my beloved grandparents; a sprawling country place filled with books and 19th century family memorabilia, the place was unfailingly warm and lively despite being in the middle of absolute nowhere. Every year my family would drive down from Maryland for an enormous, butter-laden Thanksgiving feast, which was followed by hours of lying around watching I Love Lucy marathons on TV and snacking intermittently. After the adults went to bed – usually at, like, 7 – I’d go up to my aunt’s childhood bedroom and read old-timey young adult novels until the cows next door started mooing for breakfast.
Even after my grandfather died, this tradition continued for a few years. My family loved Hannah’s Rest, we loved Thanksgiving, and few of us wanted to accept the depressing tide of change underway. (My family is not huge on change.) But our grandmother eventually had to leave Hannah’s Rest, and Ruckersville, and Virginia, and certain changes became impossible to ignore. When Thanksgiving rolled around each year, we had no idea what to do with ourselves. We dutifully tested out potential new traditions, celebrating with various friends in Maryland or relatives from my dad’s side of the family. Occasionally, my siblings and I would just spend the holiday at college, with our friends.
At some point during this window I graduated from college and moved to New York. Traveling to and from New York around Thanksgiving is a hellish nightmare, the stuff homicides are made of, and one year my brother, who also lives here, demanded a change in routine. “You come to us this year,” he told our parents. Bennett, who once chained himself to the fridge with my bike lock in order to avoid going to Sunday school, can be very persuasive. Our parents agreed to the plan. And so it was resolved that I would host my first Thanksgiving.
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