November 23, 2006

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past: Life in the Geriatric Buffet Line

"Mom, I really don't like Thanksgiving. I don't care what people say. It's a stupid holiday about eating a lot of food--well that's what is about now, anyway-- AND it never goes my way."

She chuckled, "Yea, you're right. You never had much luck with it, but that one Thanksgiving when we came down was fun!"

I'm glad she mentioned that this morning because, as a matter of fact, that was exactly the next planned Thanksgiving post.

(Mom, have you been reading my blog? At least a comment so I know you've been here!)

The second Thanksgiving after I moved to Nevada my parents and brother came out for the holiday. By then my first marriage had broken up; we were back to the the orignal family unit for the holiday--something that hadn't happened in many years.

I was all ready to welcome my family to my cute little home and cook them a big Thanksgiving dinner, but my Dad had different ideas. He thought the effort was needless and was more excited about the idea of going to the Reno-Carson City area and spending a few days checking out the historic sites.

So, off we went 130 miles from my home to Carson City where we stayed in the The Carson Nugget, in what I believe may have been the motor lodge. I must have still been in that stage of newly Nevada-ness when I actually enjoyed going to Carson City because although a quaint capitol city, there isn't much to do. That's not even to mention that there aren't many nice places to stay or good casinos to play. It IS an easier drive to Virginia City (my favorite place in Nevada) and more accessible to historic things that my family enjoy like The Nevada State Museum and The Nevada State Railroad Museum, I'm thinking maybe that's why we stayed there. Trust me, I can think of half a dozen much nicer, yet affordable places to stay 20 minutes away in Reno.

Anyway, enough of the tourist plug...

But what ever did we do for our dinner? Are you kidding? Where there's a casino, there's a good Thanksgiving buffet just waiting for, well, mostly old people who've somehow escaped having dinner with their families. My around-50-year-old parents were young compared to the other diners, and my brother and I, in our mid 20's, were simply out of place. I don't want any hate mail about been an old person hater or anything because that is so far from the truth. It's just that as a family, we had never experienced the buffet as an alternative to Thanksgiving. It was weird and everyone was moving in slow motion. I know my brother and I probably seemed like insolent children giggling and whispering all throughout dinner.

Later in the day someone won big on the nickel slots, but I can't remember if it was my dad or bro. (It as probably something like $80 since we are obviously such high rollers.) In any case I remember we went to a little lounge and bought ourselves a good drink to celebrate.

My brother and I wanted to keep the party going after my parents went to bed, but we had great difficulty finding an open liquor store anywhere in downtown Carson City on Thanksgiving night. In fact, we couldn't find anything open but a scary little gas station where we bought mini bottles of whatever there was for an exorbitant price. Then we stayed up half the night catching up on old times, trying not to get too drunk, lest we be hung over for the next morning of touristing.

Over the years my family and I have shrugged off some of the great American traditions. Sometimes we do it together, but other things I've done on my own. I suppose that my mom and I remember that strange little Thanksgiving holiday in Carson City not because it was the first time we shrugged off the traditional way to do Thanksgiving, but we remember because what's most important to our family is that we have good times together. That can be Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, a birthday party celebrating three birthdays, or just a Sunday evening hanging out on the porch in July.

We're simple people. It doesn't take much to make a good memory for my family.

So, has Happychyck ever had any traditions that stuck for Thanksgiving, or has it just been a long weekend to fill year after year? Actually, I kind of have a tradition that I had done most years in the past decade, which I had planned on doing this holiday weekend, but...

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