Growing up as I did in Manila, even with the all-pervasive colonial influence of the United States, the yearly gross consumption of food on the last Thursday in November simply was not part of our cultural appetite. Hard to imagine Filipinos as Pilgrims, not even as Filgrims, except perhaps on the receiving end. But, after I left the Philippines for America in June of 1968, and was invited to spend my first Thanksgiving with the kind and gracious family of Grant K. Goodman in Cleveland, Ohio, I have become a well-fed convert, proceeding to spend the next 45 Thanksgiving celebrations with Grant.
Every year, starting around Halloween, I remember Grant getting spooked by the idea that no one would invite him (or us) for Thanksgiving. Finally, sometime in the mid-1970s, vowing to be spooked no more, he decided that we would give the party ourselves, that we would gather as many “orphans” as we could around our table, sometimes alternating in our respective homes, sometimes at the Lawrence Alvamar Country Club buffet. This became a tradition among the “orphans” until two years ago, when Grant died unexpectedly in April of 2014.
Although I am not spooked by the idea of no one inviting me for Thanksgiving now that Grant is no longer with us, I was very moved when Toots and Jerry Schultz welcomed me into their home last year, and equally moved this year when David Bergeron and Geraldo Sousa asked me to join them for the traditional dinner at their home later today. I had six invitations this year, and was sorry I had to turn down five of them. I’m sure that, somewhere, Grant is relieved I am not alone on this day which meant so much to him. My only hope is that all the other “orphans” who used to gather around our table have had invitations as well. If not…
I am now resolved that, next year, thanks be to G(rant), I will continue the tradition he started.