Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Thanks / giving

I think the true meaning of Thanksgiving is being thankful that:

  1. You’ve finally finished preparing this gigantic meal
  2. You’ve finally finished cleaning up after the gigantic meal
  3. You’ve finally finished the turkey leftovers

One should also be thankful that one’s made-from-scratch apple pie turned out well enough that everyone — your son, your guests, and even you yourself — ate it and expressed vast gratitude for it, even though one knows that it in no way resembled the way it was depicted in glorious technicolor photos online of desserts baked by people who can actually bake.

Making the apple pie, from scratch, including the dough. Looks casual, but actually stressful. Not audible: The brilliant Pere Ubu repertoire playing in the background, played on a setting I call “Invigorate.”

Something else to be thankful for: that the after-meal screening of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” delivered everything one could wish for. I’d seen the movie only once — when it was released, in 1987 — and lobbied hard for screening it now, over my Gen Z son’s objections that it was “some movie from the 80s” and “looked stupid” and a friend’s hard press for some indy film starring James Urbaniak the trailer of which made it look, to me, painful to behold in the way of “trying too hard to be clever.” I’d seen “Planes,” etc. only the once, as I said, but I remembered it as pure joy with big laughs, and my son had never seen it, and neither had a good friend in attendance, and no, neither I nor our guests wanted to watch the movie about concentration camps or whatever it was that my son had flagged for our holiday enjoyment. Apologies to the friend who informed us that he’d seen “Planes,” etc. “five or six times already” — sincerely, buddy, sorry — but luckily “Planes, etc.” held up well and delivered as promised and was loads of fun, with everyone laughing big laughs, including the offspring and the assembled guests and me. Even though, I hasten to add: The 1980s were filled with truly wonderful music, but not one iota of that is in this movie, the soundtrack of which resorts to precisely the worst auditory excrescence of that era, leaving everything sounding like a terrible collage of Herbie Hancock, MC Hammer, and simpering men begging women to return to them. Otherwise: a fine, fun movie.

Thanksgiving, as I’ve discovered by hosting it more than once, is a costly affair. Not in money (that’s the least of it), but in time. All in, it took up 14 hours, from pre-ordering elements of it to two supermarket visits, prep, cooking, eating it, games-playing, the movie, and cleanup. But it’s worth it. It’s good to have family and friends ready to participate — in fact, it’s good to have family and friends, period. And it’s good to give things away, including your time, to people you love and enjoy.

Although next year, I might just take them all out to dinner.

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