Memories of Thanksgiving Past
So I’m Not a Journalist
I suppose I should have written this prior to the holiday, but it really is a retrospective and, frankly, I hadn’t thought about it much before yesterday’s celebration. Please forgive me. I’m working on developing an editorial calendar. It’s on my to-do list. Maybe next year I’ll be more sophisticated, but this year I’m just me.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and now another in a long line of them is in the books. It has always been a time of family, but in my case (and surely for many others) the nature of family has changed many times over the years. I’ve now experienced 65 Thanksgiving dinners. Actually, when I was younger we used to eat around 3:00 and by 6:00, when hunger returned to my growing body, I would frequently return to the table for a large second helping, but I’m not including those in the meal count; just the years.
Remaining, Yet Partial Memories
Of course, I don’t remember most of these dinners, though small portions (unlike my plate) do remain, considerably diffused by time and intervening circumstance. When I was a young boy there were dinners that included cousins, friends, and sometimes distant family, many of whom were my age and with whom I would play catch or, later on, watch football. As a young man, I recall several years when the meal was dominated by highly contentious political arguments over Vietnam, Israel/Palestine, and general economic theory. My father and I did not see eye-to-eye on many of the prevailing issues of the day and the dinner table was frequently where these differences came to a head, sometimes resulting in someone leaving the room . . . usually the old man.
Yesterday was the first time in a few years both my brother and sister were out of town and, coupled with the absence of my parents (both of whom are amolderin’ in the grave), I had no immediate family with which to spend the holiday. This also had a salutary effect, as it allowed my wife, children, and me to spend the day with her family with a total absence of guilt or argument over which location would be best. In the past, we have spent the day with one side and the evening with another. I like staying in one place best.
Holiday Exceptionalism Lost
The biggest thing that’s changed for me is the really special feeling of the day is no longer there. Don’t get me wrong. I still love the holiday and always enjoy being with family. Nevertheless, after all these years the excitement has worn off and, even worse, the food (which once was so special) has succumbed to a level of scrutiny I never brought to the table before. I’m wondering if this isn’t related to my being an older father of two young children, both of whom require lots of attention and neither of whom yet appreciate the wonders of a full Thanksgiving meal. Maybe I’m just jaded. By the way, my love of Pumpkin Pie does not seem to have diminished, so there’s something to be thankful for!
What It’s Really About
I’m reasonably certain what has happened is I now try to think of each and every day as one for which to give thanks. Since I am no longer religious, and have neither that type of community nor prayer to remind me of the blessings I receive, I make a conscious effort to do it in other ways. One of those is when I stare out at the night sky, which I do frequently, and contemplate how lucky I am to be here and, even better, to be conscious of being here. Thinking about the virtual infinity of the universe, it’s vast emptiness and tremendous violence, its humbling grandeur and beauty, I am always appreciative of the planet I live on and the amazing luck of the draw that I’m here and know it.
I’m also thankful I was born into a reasonably intact family, in a country as developed as the United States (regardless of the problems we have been, and are now, experiencing) and that I have lived a very interesting, exciting, and full life filled with challenges, setbacks, and triumphs. Thanksgiving tends to pale in comparison and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. How was your Thanksgiving?