I ate Thanksgiving dinner this year perched on an ottoman, the kind that’s hollow on the inside and meant to be filled with throw blankets and extra cushion covers. This one, much to my glee, contained my roommate’s collection of high school CDs – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, and, best of all, a blink-182 cassette tape—the glory of which was revealed after I toppled off the ottoman’s lopsided lid while attempting to pass a tray of bread across the table.
I wasn’t the only one who occupied improvised seating. Five-foot-tall Linda, who I met my first day of college, balanced on a disproportionately tall barstool; Lily and Megan, who dressed up as rats with me this Halloween, shared a wooden bench. My roommate Natalie’s brother, Andrew, and his friend, Dave—who I’d met for the first time that day—found seats on folding chairs borrowed from my brother; and Charlie, one of my oldest family friends, sat on a restaurant-style leather chair that Natalie had lugged home from her mother’s apartment in Bensonhurst.
To accommodate our many guests, we placed an old desk—which normally holds turntables and a hodgepodge of vinyl records—at the end of our dining table (mismatched tablecloths covered the dings and scratches). A lack of proper silverware forced us to get creative, using spatulas as serving spoons, ladles as ice cream scoops. And the food. There were two stuffings. Six pies. Enough cranberry sauce to feed a football team. This is what happens, I learned, when a group of fourteen collaborates on dinner.
It was the first Thanksgiving I’ve ever hosted (or co-hosted, as it were), and the first I’ve spent away from family. With our ever-fluctuating guest list, disorganized menu, and relative lack of space, I wondered beforehand whether the night would end up feeling like a real Thanksgiving.
But, as you probably can guess, it did.
My dad mentioned to me today that he can’t think of a past Thanksgiving or Christmas or birthday that wasn’t anything other than wonderful. Getting in the spirit of celebration—with family and friends and food—always makes those days special.
All of these things were there last week, of course.
And there was more. A candlelit apartment in a city I love. Great music. New friends, and ones I know I’ll keep for the rest of my life. I’ve realized this year, more than ever, that they’ve become family to me.
After dinner, we pushed the tables aside and arranged our chairs in the living room. “Everyone say what they’re thankful for,” someone suggested. Most everyone named family and friends, but there were more inventive contributions, too: 24-hour bodegas, neighborhood juice bars, bike rides through Brooklyn. (For the record, blog friends, one of the things I named was you.)
But Warren, another college friend in attendance, kept it simple and said it best: “I’m thankful to have what I need.”
I am, too. And I’m thankful to know that what I need isn’t complicated, isn’t out-of-reach. It’s here.