Hang

Giving thanks

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on November 30, 2018 Published on November 30, 2018

Most years, I spend Thanksgiving with my sister and family. But our schedules — hers, mine, Bins’s — were out of sync this year. So I remain in Elsewhere during this most family-oriented of holidays. I expect to be alone at home, but on the morning of the 20th, one day before the feast, I hear the familiar sound of paws scratching on the wire mesh of the bathroom window: Rocky Raccoon has decided to pay me a visit.

“Huh! I thought you’d gone off to hibernate,” I say to him. He gives me a withering look. “Humans never understand about hibernation,” he says. “Bears hibernate. Hedgehogs hibernate. But us raccoons? Not always. Not completely. Some years on, some years off.” Just then the phone rings. It’s Muriel. She wants to know if I will join her and her large, jolly family for Thanksgiving. Before I can even draw in a breath to say that I am deeply touched by her invitation, Rocky grabs the phone from me and says, “YES! Very yes. We’ll be there. Thank you! Goodbye!”

“You shouldn’t have done that!” I scold him. “You must always give the other person the chance to say ‘no’.” His whiskers twitch in puzzlement. “Why would I do that? I don’t WANT her to say ‘no’! I’ve NEVER been invited to eat a traditional Thanksgiving feast! I’m told it’s really yummy!” I don’t want to hurt his feelings so I don’t point out that Muriel didn’t actually invite him at all. But I do say, in as friendly a voice I can manage, “Well. You know how all humans aren’t equally comfortable spending time with ... ummm ... other animals? Especially at the dining table?”

Rocky reminds me that as someone who claims to be more fond of “other animals” than I am of my own species, I should be keen to re-educate those who don’t share my views. “I’m not into re-educating my friends,” I tell him. “And besides, Muriel is really very generous. I’m guessing she’ll welcome you to her table along with all her other guests!”

Thanksgiving dinner is generally in the late afternoon rather than at night. The next day we leave home at quarter to three. Rocky sits in my backpack because he doesn’t want to walk alongside me “like some dumb-twit pet!” We arrive at the very moment that the family of twelve is preparing to say grace. “They came in last!” cries Muriel’s brother Jim, “so it’s their turn to say Grace!” Whereupon Rocky bounces out of the backpack, climbs onto my shoulders and squeaks aloud, “Thank you for inviting me to this WOWOWOW amazing spread! My nose is ‘way better than human noses! Which is how I know it’s all totally delish so ... let’s get on with it!”

And we do. Our cheeks are soon flushed with laughter and great food. Rocky eats till he resembles a furry grey ball. We drink chilled limoncello liqueur for dessert. Then we stagger home, fall into bed and hibernate.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

 

Published on November 30, 2018
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