Tuesday, November 20, 2012
We just put two pecan pies in the oven in preparation for the family Thanksgiving, and boy did they look delicious--even raw. Thanksgiving is a time to offer thanks, but more important it's time to put work and politics and diets aside and come together for mountains of food, turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, fresh and canned cranberries, and homemade pies--pumpkin and pecan with whipped cream. Thanksgiving is a time for expandable attire. When I was a kid the holiday began with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. Dad was born and raised in New York, and he'd attended the parade as a child, so this informed our viewing of the broadcast. This parade was real, in other words, because Dad had actually been there, in the crowd as the high school bands passed by, and the drum and bugle corps, baton twirlers, cheerleaders, clowns, cowgirls on horseback, elaborate floats and finally Santa Claus, a month early, ready to begin his stay in the famous department store on 34th street. My favorites, though, were the balloons. Massive and dreamlike, surreal as any Dali paintings, these towering inflatable cartoon creatures floated through midtown Manhattan into our holiday nightmares: Donald Duck and Underdog and Spiderman, some ten stories high, fighting the wind and the occasional smart aleck kid with a BB gun. I sat transfixed Thanksgiving morning, chin on the heel of my hand, as Mom prepared for the great feast in the kitchen. Dad would be making his famous plum sauce, and preparing for the theatrical roll of turkey carver, but he might sit on the couch with me and watch for a while as the parade went by. Later, I learned that these dream balloons were blown up at four in the morning, in the streets around the American Museum of Natural History, and then pulled through the parade by workers holding guy lines. Genius! This old film was taken in November of 1941, a different time. Maybe my Dad was in the crowd. Watch the balloons and you can understand how they could fill any child's head with awe and magic.