A bartender at American Social poured me a Hazy Little Thing IPA while we caught up about our respective Thanksgivings and she said that her grandma’s 92 years old, like mine, but recently widowed. This Thanksgiving was grandma’s first major holiday without her husband in 60-odd years. So when Grandma asked my bartender friend to lead a prayer before the meal my friend said sure, secular to her core but happy to oblige, but before the actual prayer she took a moment to go confer with her dad who was drunk off rum-and-cokes, insisting with heavy eyelids and a staggered step that he was sober, and she pushed him into the bathroom and grabbed him by the shoulders and put her nose up to his and told him to get his shit together: “We’re tryna pray, asshole!”

            I think that as a kid I was largely shielded from (or oblivious to) those kindsa frictions within the family but I found this year that my own family has them too, in spades—which I should have guessed, because of courser I’ve always been privy to the family gossip about who’s got X or Y or Z sorta dysfunction going on at home.

            But with COVID we’re all now small groups, dispersed. We aren’t getting together and comparing notes.

            Nothing to do but participate in the little frictions, go home and brood on em over a drink, and smile.

            I’m not so sure anymore that it really matters where so-and-so got drunk, or these two people brought up old drama, or these other two rammed heads about politics.

            What every Thanksgiving ends with is a conversation about when we’ll get together again. Scowling and avoiding eye contact but hugging goodbye anyway.

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