(A young Erin, flanked by little Anna and little Kyler, Evans Thanksgiving circa 1992. Photo courtesy of not pictured Tierney)
Home is where the heart is, is it not?
In four days it will be Thanksgiving, a wonderful and most importantly American holiday, and for the first time in my life, I will be without a single family member. I've been trying to explain the significance of this holiday to my community, and the best that I've gotten out is
"We eat, a lot. We get together with our families, think about what we are thankful for, and we eat turkey. We eat a lot of turkey, watch football, and then everyone falls asleep."
But, that's nowhere near the true meaning of Thanksgiving for me. Perhaps trying to pinpoint the emotional significance is about as trite as the ritual that comes about this time of year: droning off what we are Thankful for; things that have been said so many times that they lose their specialness, their value is depleted by their popularity, the words fall into a chasm of holidays past and of things that we so often take for granted.
The Evans do not sit in a circle and rattle off their Thanksgivings, maybe because we realize that often they are better left unsaid. Instead, we simply enjoy each other's company, we eat, we talk. A Thanksgiving comes to mind when we were blessed by the presence of my late Uncle Aug, my grandmother's brother, who regaled us with stories of our great-grandfather, growing up in Baltimore, feigned connections to the mafia, and even had the audacity to call my grandmother, the matriarch of the gathering, a spoiled brat, to her face.
Evans family holidays are when we all gather around many tables, because we are too big to fit at one, and everyone prays the Catholic grace before we eat, and we think about those members of the family who are no longer with us, and we make small talk and eat too much, we try to decide who will host Christmas, we sing Happy Birthday to my cousin Ryan, we take turns listening to Mom-mom while simultaneously trying to get attention from any family member under the age of 7-- currently, Reagan, Paige, and the newest addition, Francesco.
Evans family holidays are small opportunities to make up for all the time I haven't spent with my cousins that year: upon seeing Amy, only 9 months older than me, the goofy switch turns on and we are back to being 7 and 8 years old again, dressing up dogs in her basement. Erin, my Godmother, always finds the perfect balance between serious conversation and fart jokes. Kyler and Tierney are always up for some antics, including but not limited to last Christmas, when I made all of the cousins watch YouTube videos in Kyler's room and then formed the Great Alliance with Tierney. Thanksgiving is when it takes an hour to walk around the house and say hello everyone, and then another hour when it's time to leave, trying to say goodbye and give hugs and kisses and say, "Wull seeya at Christmas!"
To all the Evans-es who may read this, I love you all so much and will be so terribly sad to miss the chance to be with you this week. You have all been so supportive of me and your love has carried me through the past six months. My heart is full of memories like these, and for that I am as thankful as one person can be.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and have a warm and blessed holiday!