I am back for Thanksgiving in Duluth, Minnesota. The land is just as snow white as I remembered, the trees still parched and frostbitten, the sky all shades of pleasantly green-tinged ochre as the sunset clouds roll in at barely three in the afternoon. My uncle, fresh from an afternoon nap, is wearing shoes two different shades of brown when he picks me up from the airport. He grabs my luggage as we head out through the tiny exit doors, and I am quickly reminded of how bone-chillingly cold it is this far north.
Here the air is frigid and the food is warm. The next couple of days pass by in a chestnut-scented haze of good food, good laughter, and the odd snow angel making session. My cousin Olivia is barely four. I have watched her grow into this tiny magical specimen of a human being with more love and kindness than I harbor even on my best days. We make a colorless volcano eruption out of baking soda and vinegar and I feed her caramel popcorn each time her mother leaves the room. ”You’re my second favorite grown up in the whole wide world and I love you,” she declares, nestled in my lap with fistfuls of homemade oobleck clutched in her tiny palms. I’ll take it.
I am around family despite being so far from home. My heart swells in proportion to my belly. Sweet potatoes with caramel and marshmallows, turkey left outside to brine overnight, curried butternut squash soup with a dash of cayenne pepper, enough pie for an entire week’s worth of desserts. Midnight snowflakes coax my body outside—barefoot and sans jacket, properly delusional—for a taste of my first snow of the season.
Tomorrow we will buy a Christmas tree from the farmers market, parade it home on the roof of the car, and spend the afternoon drinking spiked apple cider and watching Sesame Street as we dress up our new coniferous house guest.
This is plenty, this is more than enough.