As Turkey Day rapidly approaches, I knew I had to write something about it. The thing is, however, when it comes to the food itself I certainly cannot write about it with anything approaching authority. Sure I have prepared the meal on several occasions, but that's not the same thing as writing about something I know as well as the Feast. But then I got to thinking about what I really write about when I write about the Seven Fishes and I realized that the food is only a part of the experience. And what I'm really writing about is the experience itself, in total. In particular, I'm writing about the emotion that is packed into the meal and Christmas Eve itself. In that spirit, please read on.
Way too many years ago, when I first moved to Los Angeles to attend film school, my first Thanksgiving rolled around finding me very depressed. I missed my family and friends terribly. I hadn't yet gotten to know my classmates very well. The leaves hadn't changed. Football started on Sunday morning it was just too weird. The very worst part was the knowledge that I would not be coming home for Christmas. Money was too tight and I had gotten a job on a film and they needed me and so that was that. I wasn't even going to cook a turkey. Would you believe that went from what looked to be the worst Thanksgiving of my life to what ended up quite possibly being the best?
The day before Thanksgiving I was at work in the production office, feeling pretty glum. I guess it was obvious. Because the wonderful folks producing the film (who remain friends to this day thank you so much, James, Ellen, and Lawrence, for doing something you probably don't even remember doing) arranged for me to get 1.) a raise, 2.) an advance so that I could buy my plane ticket and 3.) time off for Christmas.
Needless to say I now had something to be thankful for. But fate wasn't finished with me yet. When I got home from work that evening my phone was ringing. On the other end of the line was a good friend, Alan, from back in West Virginia. Alan had just moved to the Los Angeles-area. He wondered if I had plans for Thanksgiving. I won't bore you with the details of how we celebrated other than to say we stayed out on the town too late and had to find an all-night grocery store at 2 a.m. so we could buy a turkey. Or how I was on the phone and this was when long distance was not cheap with my mom all day pulling together the meal. What I will say is that while I've certainly had Thanksgiving's with better-tasting food, I never had one that made me feel so good, so thankful. And I didn't even know at that moment that the Feast of the Seven Fishes I'd be spending in less than a month with my great-grandmother would be her last.
That Thanksgiving changed the way I felt about the holiday and I've never lost that feeling. I look forward to spending it with friends as much as family somehow friends make it seem even more special. And I love the preparation, the meal, the parades , the ball games all of it, and not least because it makes me nostalgic. And here's the ironic thing: I'm not nostalgic for my childhood holidays. Rather, I find myself looking back to that long-ago Thanksgiving remembering fondly a crummy little studio apartment just north of Melrose Ave. in the eastern part of Hollywood not a great neighborhood by any means and that wonderful day when , for the perhaps the first time in my life, I recognized what I truly had to be thankful for.
- Bob Tinnell