To Begin: Happy Thanksgiving and Joyous Holidays to all. Joyous Yule to the Heathens and Pagans, Merry Christmas to the Christians, Happy Hannukah to the Jews and Happy Holidays to all.
The first Thanksgiving has turned into a legend and a cute story. It originated as a festival of gratitude for the first harvest in the New World. The images are of early 17th Century people, Northeastern Indians, turkeys, maize, and pumpkins. Many images of the men are sporting the blunderbuss, a crude ancestor to the shotgun.
In recent years, there have been attempts to debunk Thanksgiving and the original colonists. These new, dismal views of history have cropped up since the late 1960s when revisionists tried to re-write history.
Thanksgiving is a national day of gratitude, a family festival and the start of the Winter Holiday Season. The usual repast includes a turkey with bread stuffing, corn and other vegetables, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving coincides with the time of year in the temperate zone of North America when the last harvests are brought in and the hogs butchered for the winter.
From a personal viewpoint, I remember Thanksgivings up the country when there was a large meal. Hogs were butchered. about that time. The extended family was there. It was big and it was fun.
When I left home for the Army, Thanksgiving changed. At least, the technical side changed. The mess hall replaced the family’s large “knotty pine” room and I ate with friends instead of relatives. In subsequent years, I rarely had the opportunity to eat with family. Work schedules and other things prevented that. No problem there. I ate with friends. Whether it was turkey sandwiches in a gin mill or the chaos of friends trying their hand at cooking, it was all good.
Since my Audrey and I are together, there have been Thanksgivings with friends, Thanksgivings with family, Thanksgivings at restaurants and Thanksgivings at home. Had they not closed the Hofbrau Haus in Atlantic Highlands, we would probably still be going there for Thanksgiivng. We liked that place. Yet wherever we ate, it was good.
There is a tradition at Thanksgiving of recounting things for which a person is grateful. This year has been a tough one and it has not gotten easier. A series of medical misadventures has knocked me for a loop. So one thing for which I am grateful is that I am alive. I am most grateful for Audrey, my wife, who has gone through this with me. Her love and care have made all the difference.
M y experience has been that a good Thanksgiving is not about a home-cooked meal with all the trimmings. It can be happy wherever one is. Whether you get a meal of many courses with turkey and all the trimmings or nothing more than a turkey sandwich, it is all good. Be thankful and take joy in it.
Gratitude is an attitude with benefits. When you are grateful for something, you appreciate it and make the most of it. If you are not grateful, you tend to ignore it and maybe even become resentful of it. If you are grateful, you find that you have more than you need to do what you must.
My funniest Thanksgiving involved a woman I had met at work a long time ago. She was from another town. She was likeable and started hanging out with us.
At one point, the woman and I took an interest in each other. We spent time together and did things. However, every time I tried to move things forward, she backed up and said she was not ready yet.
After two months of seeing her, things seemed at an impasse. I figured we were getting close to “make it or break it” time. She seemed to warm up a little and invited me to her home for Thanksgiving.
I arrived at the appointed time. Most of the guests were her friends. We had a pleasant time. Dinner was excellent. The only thing was that the woman did not sit near me. I figured she wanted to sit nearest the kitchen so it was easier to bring things to the table.
Desert came with coffee and conversation. I was halfway through my coffee when the conversation turned toward her. She was talking about her hopes for the future. In the course of it, she explained that she wanted to be involved with an artist and visit sidewalk cafes and that lifestyle. The type of man she described was very different from me, and everyone knew it.
Everyone at the table was a bit embarrassed for me. I wanted to be out of there five minutes ago. However, I finished my coffee. After thanking her for her hospitality and wishing everyone the best for the holidays, I began to leave. One of her relatives brought me my coat. He walked me to the door downstairs. Our of earshot of the people, he said, “I’m really sorry, man, I had no idea she would do that.”
“No problem. Be well and enjoy the holidays. I know when it is time to go home,” I said
I walked out of there proudly. I was neither going to slouch nor stride off hastily. The thing that stood out was that this woman could have told me at any time that there was not going to be anything more between us. She could have told me a week earlier. The odd thing is that why spend all day with someone with whom you do not wish to be? By the time I got home, I felt like I got away from her just in time. And there was that nice Thanksgiving dinner and desert, no matter how it ended. I laughed.
And as I found out later, I got out just in time. She was the type who went through people’s lives like a tornado. I had not yet seen that side of the woman, but some friends had. So there was something extra for which to be thankful.