When I found out my baby girl was going to be alone on Thanksgiving, at first my heart sank.
There she was, over a thousand miles away, in a cold, snowy town, alone except for her cat. I wanted to reach out through the iPhone and defy the physical limits of FaceTime and hug her, and teleport her into our kitchen where her mom was hard at work prepping a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.
But I can’t do that. Helpless, pathetic, emotional Dad.
You see, it bothered me a lot more than it bothered her.
Brooke had plans going into Thanksgiving. Away at college in her senior year at Washington State University, many of her friends had fled town for the holiday to be home with their families.
She and a group of friends, though, remained in town. She stayed partly because she’s coming home in a few weeks for Christmas, and partly because she’s a senior and this weekend’s Apple Cup — the rivalry game between Washington and Washington State — is to be played Saturday night in Pullman. It alternates between there and Seattle, and two years ago it didn’t happen because of COVID-19.
So, this is her last — and only — chance to see the Apple Cup in person as a student. She’s going, even if it’s going to be subfreezing and snowing. Go Cougs!
A Friendsgiving was planned. Brooke and her pals divvied up the menu assignments. The feast would be held at her good friend’s apartment. Brooke was making two pies. And, the mashed potatoes, one of her favorite holiday sides.
She’s good in the kitchen, our Brooke. So I know the pies were delicious and the mashed potatoes were spot-on, even without tasting them.
But the plans blew up, at the last minute. A couple of members of the group came down sick on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the friends were planning to break bread together. By Thursday morning, her friend admitted she felt worse than the day before.
Apple Cup looming, school and work responsibilities hanging in the balance, Brooke made the adult decision: She stayed home in her apartment with two already-baked pies and a whole mess of potatoes waiting to be mashed.
The reactions from friends and family members varied.
“What are you going to do?”
“What about the pies?”
And, her brother — himself away at school, in Dallas, in his final year of law school — said she had a unique and enviable opportunity: A full day of football on the TV, eating what you want, drinking what you want, not having to get dressed up and no one there to tell you that you can’t do whatever the hell you want.
My boy Luc. That apple did not fall far from the tree…
Erin and I FaceTimed with Brooke on Thanksgiving morning. There would be no big turkey dinner, so she decided to package up some of the pie to bring along with her to the store, in case she saw anyone who looked hungry and could use a slice of pie.
At the store she would pick out a nice steak and some mushrooms to sauté, to go along with those potatoes she was still going to mash because dammit even if all the plans were blowing up, the mashed potatoes were still going to happen.
Life served her lemons, and she made a steak dinner.
We FaceTimed with her again after dinner, and it was so nice to see her smiling face. We joked a little, exchanged notes on post-dinner plans — she and her cat, Hefner, were going to watch a movie together while Erin and I were counting the seconds until sleep.
As I fell into my tryptophan stupor, I reflected on the young woman on the other end of the FaceTime. She’s independent. Strong. Self-sufficient. Resourceful.
It made me proud.
Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal.