I didn’t do a blog post last week because I was away from home, teaching in a very busy writers’ residency. Now that I’m back with my family—the lovely Cathy and our orange tabby, Stella the Cat—I’d like to announce the addition of a kitten. Stanley is another orange tabby, and Stella is slowly coming to terms with this younger version of herself. Stanley is full of energy and determination. Can’t quite jump onto the second tier of the cat tree? No problem. He’s got claws and isn’t afraid to use them to pull himself to the top. He’s also not afraid of Stella. He eats her treats from the automatic feeder, chases her through the house, and invades her private upstairs spaces. He has the spirit and bravado we should all have in our writing. Stella has the patience and the observational skills. She knows it’s a long game, and she waits for the exact right time to assert herself.
This Thanksgiving week, I’m wishing you all so many blessings, not only in your work but in your personal lives as well. As we’ve done the past few years, Cathy and I will be opening our home to anyone who needs a place to be. We’ll have a mix of friends, colleagues, and students, and Cathy will provide a feast.
When I was a boy, my parents and I celebrated the holiday with my mother’s side of the family. We gathered at my grandmother’s house, and in later years, after she was gone, we ate at our house or at one of my aunt’s or uncle’s. I remember the smell of the turkey roasting and the pies baking when it was our turn to host. I remember aunts and uncles and cousins coming through the door, calling out, “Hello, hello, hello.” They carried in covered dishes along with the cold air on their coats. They piled those coats on my bed. Most of all I remember the stories told and the laughter, and the way we lingered, slipping back to the kitchen for another slice of pie or another cup of coffee, until dusk began to fall.
Most of my relatives are spirits now, and I no longer live in their native land. So each Thanksgiving I issue the invitation, and anyone who needs a place can come. We sit around the table, and we laugh. We celebrate the company of one another, and we eat, and we give thanks for this place we’ve made, this place where even the spirits can hover if they’ve a mind to.
This is what Cathy and I and Stella the Cat and Stanley wish for all of you—to be safe and warm and thankful and well in a place you can, if only for a few hours, think of as home.