Relay: The Thanksgiving Chill

Even though I’m not that old, I’m already spouting tales of yore

I like my winter holidays cold. Though the weather we’ve had out here has been good for the thermostat, it just doesn’t feel like the holiday season. The warmer climate takes away from the essence of Thanksgiving. 

Even though I’m not that old, I’m already spouting tales of yore, tales of a morning one Thanksgiving when we woke to a blizzard. My husband had to use our Jeep’s four wheel drive to pick up some of our guests and drive them to our house out near the Montauk Lighthouse for dinner that year. I don’t remember how they got home, but that, too, is the essence of a good holiday.

The 20-pound turkey is in the fridge, the pumpkin pie is in the oven, the potatoes and turnips are peeled, and the celery and radishes are washed. I think I’m ready, but whatever will I wear? No longer do I need a nice new sweater for the holiday outfit. A light, frilly blouse is something I’ll pull from my closet.

To those who deny global warming I would like to extend an invitation to visit us on the East End to see how the seasons have changed. We no longer have a spring, and autumn weather lasts well into December. A white Christmas is not to be, according to meteorologists, and the cold weather will not arrive until January, they say.

Since my body temperature tends to run about 10 degrees warmer than others’, this isn’t good news for me. I use to like warming my hands in front of the fire, but I no longer do that. I feel as if I’m one of those people who might spontaneously ignite one day. You might not want to stand too close to me in the I.G.A.

So many things have changed since I was a kid, and those are words I never thought I would say. When our parents would start a sentence by saying, “When I was a kid . . .” we’d roll our eyes and tune them out. But it’s true. You look back wistfully on things that you learn your own kids will never experience, such as ice-skating on our ponds and building igloos out of mountains of snow. And even though we would be dead tired at the end of a snow day and have frostbite on our fingers, those are the days that stay with us.  

What will our kids remember most about these days? Will it be the time their smartphone fell in the toilet? Or the day their Instagram pictures received a negative comment from someone they don’t even know? Will it be the time they missed a text about a change in meeting places and ended up all alone one night, or the time their laptop crashed?

Our holidays weren’t spent looking at a small screen. We were laughing at the neighbor’s mother who had too many martinis and burned the turkey and ruined their dinner. We spent the day going from house to house seeing what desserts were left over, and there were no dietary restrictions. Back then, if someone had a gluten problem they would keep it to themselves and not eat what they weren’t supposed to. This way we would never know whose stomach was making those noises and who was responsible for stinking up the room. 

I find myself yearning for a cold walk in the woods, so I when I return home I can light a fire in the woodstove. I’m yearning to pull out my winter boots and the coats that I haven’t worn in so long. Hopefully on Thursday, the weather will get a bit brisk and I won’t pass out from heat stroke when the oven is turned on for so many hours. And you never know, maybe the meteorologists will be wrong. It’s not like that hasn’t happened in the past. 

Janis Hewitt is a senior writer for The East Hampton Star.