The house smells like cinnamon.
It’s the night before Thanksgiving, and I’m making cranberry sauce. Alone. This isn’t a tradition of my childhood. It’s a tradition with roots in both the Internet and the material world.
Let me explain.
I have an adopted family. It’s called WetLeather, and it’s a community of people who love motorcycles (of all flavors) and food. In the spring of 1998, I decided — out of the blue (“midlife crisis” whispered my east coast friends and family) — that I wanted a motorcycle. In the process of teasing out that desire, I discovered an Internet mailing list: geeks who ride and like to cook. WetLeather. We’re scattered across the country, although the core is in the NorthWet (hence the name).
It was through this community that I met Mike, my love and soulmate, in August 1998.
Lots of WetLeather folk are Seattle transplants. One year (2001?), Lee Hart decided to host an Orphan Thanksgiving at his house in Kirkland. It was a pot-luck affair. Lee cooked the turkeys and made mashed potatoes (with lots of roasted garlic). The wet masses brought side dishes.
Every year, I prepare my mother’s southern cornbread dressing (dressing, not stuffing!) Thanksgiving morning and cranberry sauce Wednesday night. The cranberry sauce recipe is a gift from a friend from another Internet mailing list, the (now deceased) PRForum. Offline and online lives, co-mingled.
Why am I alone? Because Mike goes to Lee and Kristen’s house on Wednesday afternoon to help with the birds, the mashed potatoes (he runs the boiled potatoes and roasted garlic and oodles of butter through the KitchenAid mixer grinder) and all the miscellaneous things that need doing before a big party in a household with two working parents and three girls under the age of seven, one of whom is our goddaughter.
I get to cook in my kitchen. And in years like this one (where I’m a bit under the weather), I conserve my energy for the afternoon gathering. I’m an only, Mike is the eldest of four. The division of labor makes sense and clearly rests in our childhood experiences.
I also have the chance to quietly reflect on the many things for which I am thankful, not the least of which is my adopted family.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.