Turkey, fixings and family


Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

I suppose just about every year I remember the line of a guest minister in some small church:

“Thanksgiving…that’s giving thanks.”

“Get it?”

“Giving thanks.”

I recall thinking what an idiot. I draw a blank trying to call up the rest of the sermon, much less the guy’s name. But the line I guess the minister thought was so clever came to mind as we drove to my sister-in-law Lori’s for the family Thanksgiving dinner.

All my wife’s sisters showed up. Patti has custody of her granddaughter Mayzi and brought her of course. At merely five, she has such an interesting and, for her age, such an unusual vocabulary. But then Patti has always been a master teacher.

We had picked up my daughter Robyn on the way to Lori’s. Her older daughter Tanya had joined her boyfriend’s family for the holiday. The younger daughter, Cynthia, couldn’t get home from Hollywood. She works at a fast-food there and I believe hopes to get into the movies.

My son John had joined his fiancé and her family for the holiday dinner.

I go for the dark meat in recent years. Some time ago, I discovered that it’s got more flavor and is more moist than the white meat. I’m reminded that when one gets into a comfortable habit, the person can be slow to change.

After the main course, we all retired to the living room. Patti introduced a board game to Mayzi. The conversation moved easily about family. I didn’t embarrass myself by cracking open a book about World War II that I’ve been nearly addicted to.

Our nephew Noah was on the road with a traveling theater company. His older brother Rod was with wife Cassandra and two incredibly cute kids at her parents’ home for the holiday.

If you just change the names, I suppose our family’s celebration could be recounted millions of times throughout the country. Add a game or two of touch football, a prayer of thanks before the meal and cider instead of red wine and you’ve got the story’s basics.

At school, public or private, the kids have heard a scrubbed up version of the pilgrims, the native Americans and the First Thanksgiving. In all the holiday’s dinners, I’ve never heard anybody raise a toast to these earliest Americans, natives and interlopers.

But as tasty as this midday meal never fails to be, that’s not the greatest thing about Thanksgiving. No, the greatest thing is how bringing family and friends together.

It’s that one time for sure that a person knows he belongs here, he belongs to these people. These are the people I care most about about. And I know they care about me.

In our family, two days after Thanksgiving we’re scheduled to head for a nearby town where sister-in-law Vicki will warm up the leftovers from the holiday. Then we’ll get to see her older son Rod, wife Casandra and those two toddlers.

Then, for our family, this year’s holiday will be complete with warm memories to keep us going until Christmas Eve, a vespers service at church and, I bet anything, another big family dinner.

I’ll be ready.

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