Thanksgiving in Central, Alaska, was always interesting.
When we first moved there, the community was tightly knit. We were isolated from the rest of the world for nearly 8 months out of the year so you learned to depend on your neighbors. Many of those neighbors were reclusive, but you were assured that around Thanksgiving, they ended up around somebody’s table and were family.
Later, when we built our house, we became the hub for Thanksgiving. Our house was the largest in the area and we often found half of the community coming together bringing dishes to share. It started in the early afternoon and often lasted into the night as people slowly took home containers of leftovers, many of the less fortunate individuals taking home far more than they came with.
Kids would be out sledding or snow machining and sometimes would end up at the hot springs pool. The generator would be kicked on and we ended up around the television watching holiday shows or playing Atari.
The adults would gather around in groups talking and playing card games, some even able to find a chair to nap on despite all the racket. People who rarely talked to one another gathered around the wood burning stove and laughed over a piece of pie and coffee.
Then we would clean up as people trickled home. A swipe of dessert or a leftover sandwich before bed and another turkey going into the oven.
In the morning we would get up and snack all day. New plates of food were piled high and covered with tin foil before being delivered to those that didn’t come over for one reason or another. Some greeted with smiles, most left on doorsteps with a note.
And each year, after it was all over, my mother swore she wouldn’t ever do it again, but we all knew that next year, our house would full, baking would happen for days before the feast and that we would all pause for a moment in the middle of eating to be thankful for all that we had and to remember those that didn’t make it to this Thanksgiving.