I was fine until that moment. I hadn't missed the two grandmothers and the one mother who made me, well, me, with so much more intention and follow-through than that one chance encounter of sperm and egg managed to do. How can it be that I can't call any one of them to ask them about the damn gravy boat?
And then I felt such profound loneliness as I looked around the Thanksgiving table to see the faces of people whom I love (and that is so important), yet who know nothing of the person I was for the greater part of my life. You know that loneliness, yes? The loneliness you feel at the end of a relationship, when you realize that it is chillier to be with him than to be away from him?
Of course it's always worse at the holidays, because one's own childhood experience of them resonates at such a high frequency - whines, demands, insists, insinuating itself into the present so thoroughly that it might as well be sitting next to you at the table. One familiar smell, and BOOM. Christmas, 1971. Or Thanksgiving, 1982.
Anyway. Later I turned on the TV to find Charlie Brown, old buddy, unchanged, thankfully, and I smiled, and cried, and smiled some more.
Children of mine, remember to ask me the important questions, like why the hell the gravy boat doesn't work right, while I sit here ready, willing, and able to answer them.
(Only I do see, I really do, how it is that the right questions cannot possibly occur to any of us until it's too late.)