The Virginia country ham arrived two days ago, and for a while there I feared for his prospects of making it to the table this evening. Salt-cured, so you’ve got to slice paper thin, but oh-so-good on a sweet potato biscuit. Not really a part of the real meal, but as an appetizer, oof. The Hobbit has been cooking down the cranberries for quite some while. And the turkey arrived right on schedule, unfrozen and patently unpardoned.
There are various efforts left before us, but the house still sleeps and we are more or less intact. Kids these days – there, I said it – get the whole week off for Thanksgiving, and I am not yet sufficiently curmudgeoned to resent it.
Went down with Son Number One to the American Shooting Center yesterday. I chose the H&K USP .45 to rent, the Sig P220 being already out, and the shop not renting .46s. I had some wild notion of test firing one of the greater or lesser Glocks, having recently read four reasons to have one or more. But they are frankly ugly, and I can’t abide an ugly pistol. Not on the day prior to Thanksgiving. SNO chose a 9MM for reasons of his own.
Ten rounds that you could cover with your fist at 7 yards, and all in the red at ten. At 25 they were all on target, but some were beginning to fly, a little. Back in close for some hammer pairs with an aimed follow-up. I didn’t get around to doing misfeed drills. I rarely do, they seem a little ostentatious.
Some folks don’t mind. Was a young guy there with a tactical rig, laser sight on his Glock, executing speed draws with a chambered round and single shots at 10 yards. After which he’d come to rest, look left and right, re-holster, repeat. I found myself hoping he was military, or police maybe. But doubting it.
The highways were a bit of a nightmare both up and down the 5, but I was in good company and we talked of flying. The radio told us it was much the same on the 15, but we saw no reason to confirm this with our own eyes. I suspect the hive mind at work, everyone sneaking out of work just a couple hours early and trying to beat the rush. Instead becoming a part of it.
My favorite holiday, as I may have mentioned before. One that doesn’t, despite the preceding paragraphs, have much of anything to do with shooting ranges or freeway traffic. But rather having family around, and everyone healthy, to varying degrees. Someone I care a great deal about, someone familiar to you in these pages – not a particularly good driver – has nevertheless been free of her worst vice for 70 days and counting. She speaks of starting school again in the new term, and we have reason for guarded optimism. She has a young man who obviously cares for her.
The Hobbit will craft for us all a lovely meal, a labor she enjoys immensely. We will sit around the table and think back on happy times, talking about the places we have been and the things that we have seen in a soft glow of mild gustatory discomfort. We may even talk of those pilgrims who came hither seeking freedoms unobtainable in the Old Country, and how they hacked a difficult life out of the wilderness, with everything trembling in the balance, life itself on the razor’s edge.
Or maybe not, we’ve had that speech before and it can sound preachy to modern ears.
But like them, we are free people in what is still a free country. We are safely housed, gainfully employed, mostly healthy and well-fed. There is real love, and even inter-generational kindness. Forbearance and acceptance. My children are nearly fully grown, and I do not only love them, but like them. Barring some unforeseen, life-altering event, I’m pretty sure that they will be OK. I am in a loving marriage that has lasted nearly 30 years, and I think it may even work out; I like our chances.
Next year SNO will be in Guam, or deployed. Our youngest daughter will likely have gone off to college and may or may not make it back, depending on the breaks. We may have sold this place and moved somewhere further up the coast, in order to be closer to the new work. Change is in the air, a feeling that we ourselves are in the midst of a penultimate transition. We were two, and became five, and in the not so very distant future we will become two again, with occasional visitors.
We haven’t talked much about that yet, but it’s always in the room.
Uncertain winds blow outside, and there are wolves in the forest. But we have stout guardians who patrol the nearer and farther borderlands, young people far from their own homes whose physical safety is not assured but whose hallmark courage has been tested again and again over the last decade, and not found wanting in the least.
Taking these things together, and taking a broad sweep of the human condition over whatever time scale you choose, we have many reasons to be thankful.
And try as hard as we might to hold on to this.