On Thanksgiving morning, Daniel wakes earlier than Raj and Ruby. It’s 6.45, milky pink light and the rustling of squirrels, a deer nibbling at the brown lawn. He makes a pot of strong coffee and sits in the rocking chair beside the living room window with Mira’s laptop…
[Later in the day] Mira and Raj work on the vegetables while Gertie makes her famous stuffing. Daniel and Ruby tend the bird, an eighteen-pound beast slathered in butter and garlic and thyme. In early afternoon, while most of the food is roasting or waiting to roast and Mira is wiping the counters down, Raj, takes a business call in the guest room. Gertie naps. Ruby and Daniel sit in the livingroom: Daniel in the rocking chair with the laptop, Ruby on the couch with a book of sudoku puzzles. Snow drifts outside the window, melting as soon as it touches the glass.
HAPPY DAY-AFTER-THANKSGIVING TO ALLIn a post on this book earlier in the year I rudely said it was an example of a certain kind of American novel: ‘And then we went uptown and then we went downtown and then it was Thanksgiving’ – perhaps for some people that is a come-on, but I have read too many like that.
So after yesterday’s traditional (??) historical scene from a Louisa May Alcott book, here is the Thanksgiving scene from this book, complete with teeth-clenchingly annoying present historic tense (but can hardly blame Benjamin for that, as every second novel features it these days). And equally traditional – all the Thanksgiving scenes in the novels I mention above are full of troubles and rows.
So this is a nicely done picture of a family party trying to get through Thanksgiving, and hoping to heal divisions between two sectors of the family.
The setup of the book is that four siblings are told by a fortune teller when they are going to die: we then see each story in turn. By the time of this family feast, two of them are dead, and the family rift has been the result.
When they get together over the table, there will be a huge row about politics – about the Iraq war and Saddam Hussain and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (it reminded me of the discussions in Jane Smiley’s Ten Days in the Hills, also earlier this year).
And one character will take action which will be life-changing.
The picture is the cover of a 1905 magazine’s Thanksgiving edition, from the Library of Congress.