My father always wore the same significant blue gabardine suit, with a button-hole poppy in his wide lapel, for Thanksgiving dinner, while my mother always wore a pretty one-piece flowered rayon dress--pink azaleas or purple zinnias--with sling-back heels and blazing stockings I hated to touch. Their attire lives in my mind as the good touchstone for what Thanksgiving symbolized of material and spiritual life--steadiness. I had a blue Fauntleroy outfit given to me by Iowa grandparents, although I hated every minute I had it on and couldn't wait to wad it in the back corner of my closet in our house in Biloxi.
--from The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
Frances was telling Sarah and Arlen about a Thanksgiving she remembered from our childhood. Casting laughing glances at our father, she described how he had carved the turkey so painstakingly that finally our mother told everyone at the table that they were eating Michelangelo's Turkey.
"And cold as marble, too!" concluded Frances. "By the time he got done with it."
"Remember that, Cynnie?" she said, turning to me.
Of course I remembered. I must have been about nine during the Thanksgiving she was describing. While carving the turkey, my father had had trouble with the electric carving knife he'd received for Christmas the year before and was wielding for the first time. My mother kept begging him to use an ordinary carving knife, but he refused. While the knife buzzed angrily, jumping around on the turkey, he hacked off bits of bone and gristle, his mouth twisting each time he swore at himself, his face turning red. In the end, he'd thrown the whole platter of turkey to the floor, snarling that he was no "goddamn Michelangelo," then he refused to allow anyone to pick the turkey up off the carpet, even when Molly, our fox terrier, began to gnaw at it. Though my mother tried to save the evening by laughing and saying that if my father was no Michelangelo, at least he had an artistic temperament.
--from The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne
*Me? I'm thankful for the love of a good-hearted good-looking woman, the respect and adoration (I hope) of three wonderful children, my HP laptop, Cheez-its, Diet Dr. Pepper, all 6,543 of my books, a stress-free work place and a fun job, the glow of Christmas lights, Citizen Kane, North by Northwest, and Joe vs. the Volcano, Mozart's Requiem, Beethoven's Fur Elise, and Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2, Vanilla Bean Noel body wash (thanks, Bath and Body Works!), my memory-foam contour pillow, the sight of elk grazing in an ice-fogged field, Chateau St. Michele Riesling, my parents, peanut oil with which to deep fry a turkey, tight-fitting underwear, the accessibility of a Robert Frost poem, Woody Allen (1971-1994), the genius of Charles Dickens, the crunch of fresh-fallen snow, the way my house looks at night when I'm pulling into the driveway and there's a light on in the front window, a stiff cup of coffee, the good citizens of Butte, Montana, the men and women wearing uniforms and carrying guns, the short stories of Ernest Hemingway, Frosted Mini-Wheats, filet mignon, raspberries, TiVo, my imagination, my wife (did I already mention her? Well, she's worth mentioning twice), every film noir movie ever made, the crags of Grand Teton National Park, the lakes of Glacier National Park, both chain bookstores and local neighborhood indies, ink flowing from the tip of a pen, the paper that receives the ink, the Internet, libraries, the smell of a new book, the cover designs of Chip Kidd, childhood memories, pistachios, my Hyundai Tuscon which is still going strong, the National Gallery of Art and in particular "The Skater" by Gilbert Stuart, light bulbs, geese in flight, kittens, my Kindle, my wife (she's so nice, I'll say it thrice!), my health, the invention of the snow shovel, the miracle of oxygen going in and out of my lungs, iPods, eyesight, eyeliner on certain foxy girls in the 1980s, Edith Wharton, William Wharton (especially A Midnight Clear), e-mail, FedEx boxes of new books on my doorstep, sturdy bookcases, belts, my Kitchen-Aid appliances, crystal-clear starry nights, laughter when it comes out of my wife's throat, my writing desk, Kleenex, ice water, chipotles, cream cheese, coffee creamer, and....YOU, dear blog-reader, whether you've come here on purpose or by accident, thanks to you for making this one of the best years in my life.