Remember that scene in Annie Hall where Alvy eats dinner with the Halls in Chippewa Falls and there's the split-scene sequence where Annie's parents and Alvy's parents are at their respected dinner tables? That's kind of what my Thanksgiving was like.
Since I didn't get to go home, and because her large, extended family was coming to Chicago for the holiday, Julia invited me to eat dinner with her. It's just so fascinating to watch how other families interact, especially in a way that is completely different from your own. There were a lot of family members there, and they all kinda "hung out" before Thanksgiving in one of the suites of the hotel they were staying in. And hanging out basically meant sitting around and talking about stuff that my family would never talk about. I remember Julia's aunts and uncles talk about possible Democratic presidential nominees. They tried to help Julia's brother and cousin finish the New York Times crossword ("Who was the first president of the German Republic, again?"). Julia's uncle showed off his new Blackberry.
The whole time I tried to imagine the conversation going on at my parents' house where my mother's family was celebrating together. "So, does Keith like being the assistant manager at the Food Lion?" "Did you see that episode of ER last week?" It was just so weird to not hear NASCAR brought up over dinner. Instead, we had a faily intellegient conversation on newspaper comic strips.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving was seeing Julia's brother, Alex, again, who is competely fantastic. This will give you an idea what he's like: before dinner, Eric, Julia's boyfriend, and I were talking about Saul Bellow novels because he let me borrow Henderson the Rain King, which I'm reading now. After discussing Bellow left a lull in the conversation, Alex turns to me and says, "Have you read Jim Davis's Garfield Chews the Fat? I really think it's his best work."