This past week, I’ve been pre-occupied with the war between Israel and Hamas. With connections on both sides and close friends who are directly impacted and the fact I’ve lived in the region it would’ve been near impossible for me to ignore what was unfolding there. The war has a cease-fire but it won’t last. However, I looked up from the constant streams of first hand reports and the television reporting and emails to discover it is Thanksgiving.
Maybe it is the war but I found myself recalling what Thanksgiving use to be like. When I was kid it would be nothing to have 2 dozen people over to the house for Thanksgiving dinner. As I got older the number dropped to a dozen every year. My mom would start food shopping the weekend before and start cooking the day before.
The table setting would include turkey, ham, mashed potato & gravy, pasta salad, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, dressing, noodles (my fav), salad, and cocktail shrimp which had nothing to do with Thanksgiving but more with the fact everyone liked them. A dinner guest had to remember to leave room for the 2-3 pies that would be up for dessert. My dad would get first dibs on the gizzards and I would get first dibs on the turkey dark meat.
The last couple years my mom cooked I was too ill on Thanksgiving to join everyone and lucky enough to get a plateful down. Since she’s been gone it has been pretty much a solo holiday with a quick run to Cracker Barrel to grab a turkey dinner. In fact, I found myself wondering today how long it had been since I had a real Thanksgiving. Has it been 5 years or 6? Maybe one in that time period? I don’t recall now but the turkey is still basted in my mind.
I watch people on social media list out what they are thankful for but many seem to miss the point. I always remember that my parents every holiday but especially on Thanksgiving had at least one person or couple over who might not otherwise have gotten a cooked meal. Sometimes the guest was irritating like the grumpy lady who joined us a couple of years but my parents would always just say, “They don’t have anyone else so be nice.”
The lesson I took from that is that the holidays aren’t just about what you are thankful for but what you can do to make someone else thankful. It maybe something small, a polite gesture like picking up a tab or a friendly word of advice and encouragement. And now I laugh out loud to myself because a song played at mom’s funeral which I haven’t heard hardly since then just started playing as I wrote that. A little smirk, giggle and nod from the other side I suspect. So, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. Now, what are you going to do with the blessed gift of being alive and fortunate enough to have food on your table?