Thanksgiving 2017


Okay, look. I know that sometimes these photos show up stretched all weird when you're looking at this blog on a mobile device. It's very annoying and I've been trying to figure out a way to fix it. I mean, I think I know what causes it -- it seems only to happen when the photos I have embedded are converted to links to a full photo set on Flickr, rather than just to the page for the photo itself. And that's what I've done to the two photos in this entry: click either photo and you'll be taken to the full Thanksgiving photo set on Flickr.

Or, I suppose, in the future I can just stop doing that -- I'm just so married to using photos as photo links! -- and simply provide you with the link in the text of my entry: like this.

26 shots in the full photo set this year -- this seems to be fairly typical of Thanksgiving photo sets, which tend to have twenty-something photos. That's hardly surprising, since there's only so much visual variety you can get from a day focused on eating one huge meal. It's not like Halloween with all its fun costumes or Christmas with its litany of related events. I had only 25 shots in last year's Thanksgiving photo set, and that was the first Thanksgiving back in Seattle after six years in a row of Thanksgivings out of town. This year's, being in Olympia -- which of course is also "out of town," though kind of barely -- was the first one I spent in Olympia since 1996. Thanksgiving in 1999 was in Washington State but that year we all met up in Centralia. So, although it's only been since 2014 that I last spent a Thanksgiving with Dad and Sherri, that was my first Thanksgiving with them since the Centralia one in 1999, and to this day I still have not spent Thanksgiving with Dad and Sherri in Olympia since 1996.

There are two simple and easy reasons for so few Thanksgivings with Dad and Sherri, though. Back in the nineties, I spent a few years switching back and forth, between Thanksgiving and Christmas: if I spent one in Spokane, I'd spend the other in Olympia. Then switch it around the next year. But, once I moved to Seattle and it was so much easier to go to Olympia for my favorite holiday of the year -- Christmas -- I decided I would henceforth just reserve Christmas for Dad and Sherri in Olympia and Thanksgiving for Mom and Christopher in Spokane. It basically continued like that until 2005, which was the second year I was with Shobhit, and after he came with me to meet Mom and Bill for Thanksgiving in 2004, he started hosting Thanksgiving at home. It became the one major holiday of the year we just spent at home together in Seattle -- usually with guests (always Barbara, until she moved back to Virginia in 2010; and usually with Shobhit's friend Sachin) -- and Shobhit typically made a huge spread of Indian food. Such was the case for the five years between 2005 and 2009 (although we went out to eat rather than having him cook in 2009); 2010 changed because that was the year Shobhit moved to New York City. So, that year we actually went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- a record 72 shots in that photo set.

Shobhit moved to West Hollywood in 2011, and we went out to eat in L.A. that year. But we had a new tradition between 2012 and 2015 of going to Palm Springs to spend Thanksgiving with his friend Faith. Although we spent Thanksgiving Day in 2014 in Phoenix with Dad and Sherri and Brandi and her family, we still had a separate Thanksgiving dinner with Faith, with whom we stayed both on the way out to Phoenix from L.A. and on the way back.

So that brings us to 2017, a new year with the holiday very different from any other we've had to date: we went to Olympia, but not to Dad and Sherri's -- they spent the holiday on the coast -- but to my sister's. There were nine of us, which was a perfectly manageable number.

Thanksgiving Roll Call!

1. Gina [my sister]
2. Beth [Gina's wife]
3. Matthew [me]
4. Shobhit [my husband]
5. Gaia [Gina and Beth's Italian exchange student who just turned 17]
6. Tracy [Beth's longtime friend]
7. Caitlin [Tracy's partner or wife, not sure which; I just know they've been together ten years]
8. Linda [Beth and Gina's friend]
9. Jim [Beth and Gina's friend]

So. Let's break this down. This crowd was not just 66.6% women, but 66.6% lesbian -- not a straight woman in the bunch -- and, adding Shobhit and me, 88.8% gay.

Jim was the only straight person there. Gina had texted me there would be only one straight person, but didn't say who that would be. So, once we sat down to eat, I said, "So I hear there's a straight person here?" I will admit freely I said that in large part just so I could post that I did. Then either Gina or Beth, I can't remember which, told me to guess which one the straight person was. Since I already knew Tracy and Caitlin were a couple, that left only Jim and Linda as possibilities, as they were the only two single people there. Jim had honestly been giving me a quasi-queer vibe, so I pointed to Linda, who was sitting directly across from me, and said, "Is it you!"

She acted genuinely shocked, and said something to the effect of, "I always thought I was pretty obvious." To be fair, Beth said, "No, you're not." Anyway, the straight person was Jim. Shows what I know! I think to a large degree, with increasing fluidity of both behaviors and identities, "gaydar" is kind of a thing of the past. At least every time I'm at Steamworks I know everyone there is men who have sex with men. I like straightforward environments.

And, by the way, another stat: it was also 88.8% football fans -- I was literally the only person there who did not watch the football game with interest. I would have been happy to keep the TV on the Macy's parade from New York -- which they had to have been running on repeat, as it happens Eastern Time far earlier in the day. But when other guests began to arrive (Shobhit and I were first, but not by much time), Tracy was immediately asking about turning on the game. So, all the lesbians and the straight guy, they were pretty on-brand with the football thing. Shobhit was that one gay guy who defied steteotype and was perfectly content to watch the game too. I couldn't even tell you who was playing, what cities they were from, what city they were playing in, or even the colors of their uniforms.

Beyond that, there's really not a huge amount of specificity for me to share -- I mean, for my own standards, anyway. I'll still find plenty of stuff to tell you, you know me! For instance: Shobhit and I left home at around 10:40 a.m. We saw Ivan for a brief time before we left, but even he actually left for work before we left for Olympia -- unlike last year, when he also worked on Thanksgiving but still got to be part of our Thanksgiving thanks to Shobhit offering some of the food he was preparing for dinner, for him to have lunch before he headed off to work, Ivan worked a much longer day this year. He was scheduled 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. He was getting double pay for working the holiday; Shobhit mentioned more than once the four extra hours would result in overtime by the end of the week for him; and Ivan said himself there wouldn't be much to do during that extra four hours anyway. He also said they also offer a nice Thanksgiving dinner when he works the holiday (he's a nurse at an assisted living building on Lake Washington in Madison Park).

It was in this conversaion that I learned, for the first time, that his typical work shift is 2 to 10:30; all this time I thought he got off work at 10:00. He usually gets home at 10:40, and I always figured he just typically had to work a bit later than his scheduled end time and then had to wait for a bus. In fact it's kind of the opposite: he's scheduled to get off work at 10:30 and he catches the #11 bus that leaves the stop right at his building right at 10:30. This, I suppose, actually better explains how every so often he misses that bus and arrives at the stop at our building at 11:10 instead of at 10:40. He's told me before how often he winds up literally running out of work to catch that bus, and now I have a better understanding of why that happens.

Shobhit and I might have left a little earlier, but we've been trying to find that storage locker key I somehow managed to lose. It's like it just magically disappeared from my hand, because I can't recall what the hell I did with it after opening the storage area door -- I usually put it in my pocket, but after we left the storage unit last weekend, it was just nowhere to be found. Shobhit got a spare from Alan the building manager, and we went down one last time to look for it, even taking several things out of the storage space itself. Nothing. So, I'll just be paying the $20 to keep this replacement key. That's not the biggest deal anyway.

The GPS originally said we'd arrive at Gina and Beth's at 12:12, and it was closer to 12:25 when we arrived. We did encounter some fairly heavy traffic, but all things considered a ninety minute drive wasn't too terrible.

Gina and Beth provided the turkey, green bean casserole, perfectly soft dinner rolls, a brie cheese dip and crackers, and I believe the peppermint roca as well. Shobhit made his pumpkin pie from scratch and I made an eggnog quickbread -- both got many, many compliments, although I think mine got slightly more so I win! I also brought a 2 lb Field Roast Celebration Roast with Traditional Bread Stuffing and Mushroom Gravy, a product that sells at PCC for $18.69 (on sale this month for $16.89, so with my employee discount it would be $12.67) that I got for free thanks to a coupon from a broker. I don't know who else had any of it; I know Gaia tried some, and so did Shobhit -- he didn't find it all that impressive. I was the only one who had any of the mushroom gravy, which was made by adding water to a powder packet. I quite liked that gravy with both the Field Roast and the mashed potatoes. There was exactly half the Celebration Loaf left at the end of the day, and that was perfect for packing up and bringing home to freeze until Christmas, when, I guess, I'll be the only one eating it. I also put the leftover mushroom gravy into a little to-go container while I will bring back to Gina and Beth at Christmas, and the little box container fit perfectly inside the half of the Celebration Roast box now not occupied with the eaten half of the loaf itself.

Other guests began to arrive within minutes of Shobhit and me getting there. Caitlin made a plate of pecan pie bites, which were super tasty but also, by design, pretty heavy on the crust. Jim brought cranberry sauce that I didn't even try because I hate cranberry sauce. I believe it was Linda who brought the mashed potatoes.

Aside from when we sat down at the table to eat -- and Linda actually said grace, something I was not really expecting but it was fine, I can handle it -- the day was pretty much spent otherwise just lounging around the living room. Most people watching football, me looking at my phone, mostly at entertaining Thanksgiving tweets. Other people looking back and forth between football and their phones. At one point I took a pamorama shot of everyone in the living room -- and I only realized later that, in that picture, five out of the nine of us are looking at our phones. (That includes me, the one taking the photo -- with my phone.)

So I guess Shobhit and I were there just under six hours. We were the first to arrive, also the first to leave. In a relatively unusual turn of events, when he texted me he was ready to go, I actually was too. We got home at about 7:40 and that gave me plenty of time to process and upload and caption the day's photos. So that took up most of the rest of the evening, although I did come out to the living room to watch a couple episodes of The Golden Girls on Hulu before going to bed.

I guess I could tell you a bit about Wednesday evening as well. That was the evening Shobhit and I spent baking our dishes we brought to Thanksgiving. Shobhit's pie got lots of compliments yesterday, but they hadn't tasted the ones he made for Laney's birthday in September, which was way better. The filling for this one didn't quite firm up enough, making it much more like a pumpkin custard cake. I also found it kind of grainy, but have no idea what ingredients might have caused it to be like that. On the plus side, between the two of us we actually got the the whipping cream to thicken yesterday in shorter time than we have in the past. I guess we're both just getting better at whipping cream.

As for my eggnog quickbread, people sure liked that, and I heard at least three times some variation of "It's so moist!" And I would just be like, "Yeah, well. There's two cups of eggnog in it." We took about half of that back home as leftovers too -- there was only two slices left of the pumpkin pie, which Linda had seconds of. Linda really liked the pie.

Anyway! Back to Wednesday. We headed downtown later in the evening because Shobhit already knew from years-ago experience that stores don't wait until Friday to impliment their Black Friday pricing -- they do it at the end of the day on Wednesday. We went into Old Navy and most of the store was half off; Shobhit got a new vest jacket and a couple of shirts and I got at least three new polo-style shirts. At first I was thinking I have more than enough shirts, but lately my shirts are becoming too heavy with button-up shirts that need dry cleaning because I refuse to iron, and I could use some more shirts I can wear to work but don't need ironing.

Then we went to Macy's, where they didn't quite have the Levi's I was looking for, but I settled on two shrink-to-fit jeans. Their Levi's were all 40% off. But, we later discovered, they are the exact same pricing with the exact same discount for Black Friday at both and on Amazon. I found the color of blue jeans I want in Original Fit -- not shrink to fit -- as well as one brown color and one white color, all now in my Amazon basket, waiting to purchase until Friday just in case they offer any further discount for Cyber Monday. I've got the same in a basket at, with the exception of the brown ("compost") color that for some reason they're not selling on their own website, so in all likelihood the entire purchase will come from Amazon.

In any case, there was a fair amount of rushing and trying on jeans at Macy's and all that. Shobhit asked me when we got home if I had been stressed going through that, and I said yes. And can you guess how Shobhit responded to that? He literally harped on how I could have lessened my stress by doing more to prepare for the shopping beforehand, refusing to shut the fuck up about it for nearly the rest of the evening, literally making the rest of that evening more stressful than the fucking shopping itself had been! Seriously: I was still up when Ivan got home from work that evening, and Shobhit even wanted to tell Ivan about this! As if Ivan gives a shit, aside from how much delight he seems to get in watching us bicker and even sometimes attempting to egg us on, which is honestly starting to get a little old. But, Jesus Christ. How does Shobhit doing that not make my stress level only worse? He can be such a thoughtless dick sometimes. So can I, though. I really should be fair about that. Anyone who knows me well knows this to be true. But I want to complain about my husband, damn it!

I was telling Laney the other day that probably my favorite thing about now having been with Shobhit 13 years -- not to mention having our relationship still intact after nearly six years of long distance (which worked far better for me than it did for Shobhit, perhaps part of the problem now: he wants to be literally in my presence so constantly that for me it can feel oppressive and clingy; this is part of what makes my days at work a relief . . . it's also weird and kind of ironic that he wants to be with me so much when he's upset with me so often but whatever) -- is that I no longer ever get unsolicited relationship advice. I used to get that a lot, particularly when we were starting the long distance thing, but I guess people have finally realized that we don't need it. Also, troubled as it often is, our relationship has outlasted those of everyone who used to give me that unsolicited advice. That kind of makes a difference, no?

I just realized this was my fourteenth Thanksgiving with him. The other people we spend it with changes every few years, but it always includes him. And he was pretty well behaved yesterday, although Gina and Beth did each have a moment when they had to kind of shut him down. At one point Shobhit began to talk about overpopulation, which even Gina knew was headed to his often and understandably upsetting perspective that the only thing good for the world is for millions of people to get wiped from it -- so she cut him off: "Shobhit, we're not going to do that today." And Shobhit took the hint: "Okay," he said, and immediately shut up about it. Later, Shobhit was talking to Tracy about something I forget -- something to do with Black Friday sale prices -- and Beth had to say, "Shobhit! You're kind of escalating here," and asked him to take it down a notch. And, again, he obliged immediately, because he loves and respects both Gina and Beth, and they love him too and are able respecfully to get him to back off.

Otherwise, Shobhit was actually better than usual for a holiday with family. He never once complained to me yesterday about being bored, which usually happens. I think I even got a little more bored than he did, what with all the football. But it wasn't bad -- I liked just hanging out with them all, and Gina and Beth's friends are all great and fun to be around. It was a very nice day on the whole.


[posted 12:21 pm]