He reflects on an especially memorable Thanksgiving he spent with friends and family at an old inn in California:
"Ten years have passed since that night at Manka's Inverness Lodge. The yoga gypsies broke up a while back. Mr. Robinson's daughter was killed by a terrible disease at the age of 18, and his wife has since fallen prey to another. And two days after Christmas in 2006, a massive tree fell onto the main building of Manka's, damaging a water heater, which started a fire and burned the old lodge to the ground. We can never go back, therefore, to the place as it was in its heyday, to the families we were in our prime, to the things that we had all taken for granted up until that day.
And that, to me, is the meaning of Thanksgiving. Of all the Thanksgivings before and since, the one spent at Manka's stands out for me as the truest, even though we were far from our places of origin. Nothing lasts; everything changes. People die, and marriages dissolve, and friendships fade, and families fall apart, whether or not we appreciate them; whether or not we give thanks every waking moment or one night a year. For the act of returning to the same table, to the same people and the same dishes-to the same traditions-can blind you to life's transience. It can lull you into believing that some things, at least, stay the same. And if that's what you believe, then what have you got to be grateful for? None of our Thanksgivings are ever coming back; we've lost them. They're gone. And so this year, let's go somewhere with strange customs and unfamiliar recipes and the latest collection of ill-assorted chairs, and give thanks-not for everything we have, but for everything, instead, that we have lost."