forty-six days before

Best thanksgiving food I’d ever had. No crappy cranberry sauce. Just huge slabs of moist white meat, corn, green beans cooked in enough bacon fat to make them taste like they weren’t good for you, biscuits with gravy, pumpkin pie for dessert, and a glass of red wine for each of us. “I believe,” Dolores said, “that yer s’posed to drink white with turkey, but — now I don’t know ’bout y’all — but I don’t s’pose I give a shit.”

We laughed and drank our wine, and then after the meal, we each listed our gratitudes. My family always did that before the meal, and we all just rushed through it to get to the food. So the four of us sat around the table and shared our blessings. I was thankful for the fine food and the fine company, for having a home on Thanksgiving.

“A trailer, at least,” Dolores joked.

“Okay, my turn,” Alaska said. “I’m grateful for having just had my best Thanksgiving in a decade.”

Then the Colonel said, “I’m just grateful for you, Mom,” and Dolores laughed and said, “That dog won’t hunt, boy.”

I didn’t exactly know what that phrase meant, but apparently it meant, “That was inadequate,” because then the Colonel expanded his list to acknowledge that he was grateful to be “the smartest human being in this trailer park,” and Dolores laughed and said, “Good enough.”

And Dolores? She was grateful that her phone was back on, that her boy was home, that Alaska helped her cook and that I had kept the Colonel out of her hair, that her job was steady and her coworkers were nice, that she had a place to sleep and a boy who loved her.

I sat in the back of the hatchback on the drive home — and that is how I thought of it: home — and fell asleep to the highway’s monotonous lullaby.


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