Flavor of Thanksgiving by Ken Griffin

A pair of Thanksgiving portraits in a pictorial had me flashing back to Thanksgiving dinners at my grandparents’ home in Dixon, California. I did not find myself thinking of any one particular year, but instead, of the flavor and tone of any given holiday in that home. I suppose that my family was a blend between the two portraits offered in the pictorial l had seen. The Norman Rockwell version of Thanksgiving is representative of my grandparents and the holiday that they wanted to have. The opposing picture, with the cast of Modern Family reenacting the Rockwell painting, is closer to what our family resembled even in the seventies. My mom, the
young divorcée, and I would be on one side of the table. My Ivy League-educated uncle would be on the other side with his wife, and his son and daughter, both of whom had been adopted from Mexican orphanages. None of what I described about those seated around the table particularly pleased my grandparents, with the exception of my uncle’s education. My
grandparents were racist but very polite about it. Having brown-skinned grandchildren was a challenging hurdle for them to get over. I do believe that they loved both of them very much; the relationship that they had with my cousins allowed them to stretch as people and begin to see the world slightly differently. The fact that my uncle used his law degree to work at a non-profit that offered counsel to migrant farm workers was another thing that both confused and upset my grandparents. Then there was my mom, who embarrassed them by getting pregnant out of wedlock, and then further embarrassed them by getting a divorce at a time when they
weren’t yet commonplace. My mom had certainly broken the rules of belonging with that one. After all, hadn’t my grandparents stayed the course through a toxic and loveless relationship over decades? Then there was I, whom they loved very much, despite the fact that I was a forever reminder of the embarrassment that their daughter brought to them. If you take this heaping plate of holiday deliciousness and smother it with ladles full of gravy made from alcoholic discord and tragedy, then you have the overall flavor of my Thanksgivings in Dixon.