Once again, we find ourselves on the precipice of that special time of year; a time when family and friends, many of whom will travel great distances, will gather together to re-connect, re-kindle, and to acknowledge and give thanks for those people and things that make our lives worthwhile. This span of five weeks that begins with the observance of Thanksgiving and ends as we collectively sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to ring in the New Year, is indeed, traditionally or otherwise, a special time.
As I reflect back to the Thanksgivings of my youth, I see images of a humble existence at our house in West Medford, Massachusetts. Our dining room was a rarely-used, unfamiliar place – unlike the kitchen, where we spent most of our waking moments as a family. The dining room was more akin to a shrine, in that it was used only twice a year – on Thanksgiving and on Easter Sunday. For the rest of the year, it served as a pass-through to get from the hallway to the kitchen. But on Thanksgiving, that drab, old room magically came to life!
A neatly-folded tablecloth that emitted the pungent odor of mothballs was taken out of storage, washed, pressed, and spread over our dark, walnut table. Dusty plates, drinking glasses, and silverware were removed from the cupboard and meticulously cleaned and symetrically arranged on the table. My mother complimented the setting by placing two tall candles in the middle of the table, thus creating a kind of ambience in the room that was conducive for a Thanksgiving gathering.
As a child, I never gave much thought to what Thanksgiving was really all about. To me, it was simply a day that was full of eager anticipation that culminated in a form of culinary greed and over-indulgence, where I selfishly gorged myself with turkey, stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac & cheese, cranberry sauce, vegetables, rolls, and margerine (no butter-too expensive). I then washed it all down with a tall glass of apple cider. Lest I forget that traditional bottle of Manischewitz Concord grape wine that graced the table (the only time we kids were allowed to sip alcohol).
And then came dessert…I couldn’t possibly survive the evening without wolfing down a slice each of apple, sweet potato, mince, lemon meringue, and blueberry pie, now could I? To make matters worse, I had the nerve to top each slice with a scoop of ice cream…ala mode times 5. After all of that, I had the audacity to wonder why I got sick!
At 50+ years of age, my perspective of what Thanksgiving should be is now tempered by humility and understanding. I am deeply thankful for my life, first and foremost, and for all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. If there ever comes a time when I feel that I need more of something, or that I am entitled to more of something else, all I need to do is open my eyes and take a look around. When I do, I see tens of thousands of people in this country who are without a job; who have either lost their home to foreclosure or are about to. I see homeless individuals living on the streets; I see a mother, alone, holding her crying baby which she is unable to feed. I see families with no place to call home, existing day to day with barely enough to scrape by.
Yes, this is indeed a time of thanksgiving. And when I look at my station in life, and the fact that I live a fairly simple lifestyle (no, I’m not rich or afflent – far from it!), I am thankful for having good health, a loving family, good friends, gainful employment, a home, food to eat, a car to drive, and the basic necessities of life. Some of you might think that I’m being cavalier or that I’m just easy to please, but I don’t believe that for one minute. In fact, I’m rich beyond measure. Who said that richness can only be measured by dollars alone?
I am thankful for all of you who have taken the time to read my blog, and for those who have made the effort to reach out and communicate with me to offer a thought, a response, a concurrance, or disagreement. Each of you are a catalyst; you stimulate my mind by engaging in thought-provoking exchanges that facilitates a fulfilling blogging experience…and for that I thank you!
Last, but not least, I would like to acknowledge and give thanks to the men and women in uniform, who are unable to be with their loved ones during this Holiday Season. It is because of them that we enjoy many freedoms, which in and of itself, is much to be thankful for.
I wish all of you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Be well, stay safe, and always be thankful.