29 Nov 2002 jfleck   » (Master)

One of my colleagues had a great line in the newspaper Wednesday : "Thanksgiving never really looked like that Norman Rockwell illustration, the one that shows an apron-draped grandma serving a gigantic turkey to Caucasian kin aglow with beatific light." We've been manufacturing our own family T-Day traditions now for a while, embodying some of the Norman Rockwell goal but drifting pleasantly away.

I ran my 10th consecutive Albuquerque Turkey race this year, in my 43rd year, thankful that I still have 5k in my legs. It's an incredible affair, run by a kinda goofy running shop owner, winding through the country club neighborhood and then out by the river. I don't race much any more - the turkey is the only race I've done the last couple of years. I keep a log of every race, and the times become a record of my aging. This year's was the slowest 5k I've run, and I take pleasure in the gentle aging that implies. There were some really old people out there still doing it, a good set of role models.

Mom and Dad came over late morning, and we ate some of the most fabulous cheese for lunch, then cleared off the table and started the puzzle.

The puzzle is a more recent tradition - a big all-day jigsaw puzzle fest. This year we did a map of LA, where we'd all spent decades of our lives. It was a hoot, finding the places in isolation, then figuring out how to assemble them. Lissa did the San Fernando Valley, Mom, cheerfully proud that her fading eyesight still let her do the puzzle, did San Bernardino, Dad did the mountains and I marched up and down the Pacific Coast Highway, past the Santa Monica Pier and down to the beaches of Laguna that I love so much. Only Nora was left out, too young when we left LA to remember any of that.

We went with the nice linens, but none of us are so into feasting that it was really that big a deal - a small turkey, some lovely rice stuffing and Dad baked me a sugar-free apple pie.

After dinner, the four of them played word games while I bowed out to do some packing for my trip.

It was a gentle day, no longer freighted with expectations, just filled with an easy rhythm.
Back to school next week. I'm off to the Whitehead Institute at MIT for a week of intensive academic exposure to people much smarter than me, who will attempt to teach me and a handful of other science writers about the genes and the revolution in biochemistry. I am very excited about this. (And bonus stuff - I get to sandwich in a couple of days with my sister, Lisa, and her husband, Tom, at the beginning and end of the trip.)

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