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Plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Thanksgiving Day has arrived but many of us wonder what there is to be thankful for.

This past year has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Raging storms resulted in more flooding of Midwestern towns. Tornadoes created chaos with many reported injuries and deaths in certain parts of the country.

We have a new president in Donald Trump, who has the major task of trying to unite a country that is a house divided. The major highlight, of course, is the Chicago Cubs, who shattered that 108-year-old drought.

Despite the turmoil and celebrations that occur during a full year, Thanksgiving Day is a constant. This day should be a reprieve from all the noise outside. I can understand that some people don’t feel like celebrating. This new century has been difficult for many Americans. Many of them have lost their jobs at one point. They may have found work since but the majority of them have had to take a pay cut. Another group of Americans have not found full-time work since the Great Recession, settling for working a couple of part-time jobs to try and make ends meet.

No wonder a lot of us feel lost and frustrated today. Many of those manufacturing jobs that were so prevalent in the U.S. have since evaporated.

But for one day, at least, we should set aside those concerns. Thanksgiving Day is a time for a celebration. Perhaps we often don’t think about it that way. The holiday is now in the middle of the ever expanding influence of Halloween and the Christmas shopping season. For some people, that begins tonight. I suggest take a breather from the holiday rush. You have plenty of time to shop, especially if you are off on Friday.

Thanksgiving Day should be an oasis from all those shopping expectations. I guess that’s what I like about Thanksgiving. It does not come with great expectations. It does not come with bags of candy or with bows and presents. But it does come with a hearty meal that includes the turkey and all the trimmings. The meal is capped off with a pumpkin pie and perhaps an apple pie. Those desserts would go well with a cup of coffee or even some wine.

To be honest, I can’t recall many specific Thanksgivings that stand out. One Thanksgiving was more significant than the rest. In a previous column I wrote, I mentioned that my free-spirited Uncle Jack arrived with his family on one memorable Thanksgiving in the 1960s. He also brought his pet monkey, Rosie. The monkey later escaped and ran down the street. Uncle Jack and the rest of us ran after Rosie. This little spider monkey was retrieved before going up a tree. That must have been a sight for our neighbors.

With memories like that, Thanksgiving Day is unique. As I grow older, Thanksgiving Days become more special to me. This is the first time in many years that our family will not be hosting Thanksgiving. Initially when we began holding the event, coordinating the meal and preparing the turkey resulted in some difficulties. The greatest task is coordinating everything together so the turkey is done and the side dishes are ready after the guests arrive. Like everything in life, preparing of the holiday feast improves through repetition. In our case, it was more like trial and error.

The advantages of serving the meal are that you are at home in your own surroundings. While it is a lot of work, you have the day planned out. The Macy’s Day Parade is on TV and can be heard in the background as we prepare the turkey. Setting the table and later preparing those side dishes comes later.

The guests arrive and it is time to give thanks. And after the meal, the pies and the coffee, the night is set aside for conversation. Those conversations often include lots of laughter. This is sometimes the best part of Thanksgiving. After all the preparation, the time to relax and enjoy the company of others is precious. It’s what Thanksgiving is all about.

Despite what is going on in the world, Thanksgiving Day doesn’t change. This is still a day in which family and friends can come together to dine in what is a great American tradition. And the day should not be taken for granted. I still recall Thanksgiving Days with my mother, father and my Uncle Jack. They are no longer here but those memories of them fill up my Thanksgivings.

This Thanksgiving Day I remember them all. Today I will enjoy the meal and the company that surrounds it. And I might have another piece of apple pie.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Being thankful at Thanksgiving for healing and restoration

  • Written by Claudia Parker

khalilah turner photo 11-24

Submitted photo

Claudia Parker hugs Steve LeClercq during the opening of the TD Jakes show, which aired last week.

 

 

It was one week ago today that I made my television debut on the TD Jakes show, which airs nationally on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), and locally on WCIU, The U, and it’s Subchannel WCUU, The U Too.

Unlike my past appearances on television talk shows where there’s been a brief glimpse of me smiling from the audience, this time I was an invited guest of the show. Contrary to my bubbly persona, I spent most of the interview in tears. Amazing Reunion Stories was the show topic. Most reunions are exciting right? Not if it’s with a family member of someone responsible for taking the life of your baby sister.

It wasn’t exciting at all - more like terrifying!

It was June 7, 1979 that my 2-year-old sister, Khalilah C. Turner, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. It’s been 37 years since her tragic death. This past Sunday would’ve been her 40th birthday. In a divine twist of fate, God saw fit that she receive an unconventional gift -- a headstone purchased by Steven LeClercq, the adult son of the driver responsible for her death! He recently passed away, which is what prompted Steven’s curiosity.

“My dad spoke very little of the accident to me and my siblings. My mother even had very little information,” said Steven. “I was nosing through old stories I’d heard and this particular one had the least amount of details. After piecing together several parts of a tattered story, I felt it was my responsibility to visit Khalilah’s grave to show respect, grieve and offer condolences.”

Steven said he didn’t expect to find a grave without a headstone. It doesn’t even have a marker--- only grass.

“Upon discovering Khalilah’s whereabouts, it was very saddening to find that she had an unmarked grave,” expressed Steven. He took that information back to his family and together they decided to do something. “If my father had known this before his death, he would’ve headed this task himself.”

Steven said although his father spoke little of the accident, he knew he carried a burden of guilt. His dad apparently lived in the vicinity of where it all happened. He said, “I heard my dad moved, sold that car shortly after and avoided driving near that road.”

Over the last two months Steven and I have become pen pals on Facebook, answering each other’s queries in private messages. I learned he knew far more about me than I knew about him. He said, “I read your book, “Becoming a Mother While Losing My Own” twice! The first read through was a quick skim looking to see if any useful information was listed in discovering if you were who I thought you were. After realizing that you were the correct person, I became intrigued to read you and your mother’s story leading up to the accident and the events afterwards. I have even recommended it to a couple more family members.”

Since he knew my entire life story, I wanted to level the playing field. “What kind of man was your dad,” I asked?

“He was fairly calm and a wonderful goofball. He adopted me and my brother, all together there are seven of us. He loved my mother unconditionally, during his last days he only wanted her to be taken care of. As we all want to do a better job than our parents, I'm going to have to reach pretty high. I truly admired him as a father.”

I found solace in hearing Steven say his father had lived a life he aspired to live up to. I didn’t know how to react when he walked out to greet me on the T.D. Jakes show. Just as unusual as it was for him to purchase my sister a headstone, I suppose I responded in-kind. When he walked out, I greeted him with a smiling face, arms wide open and gave him a full embrace. We squeezed one another tightly, putting each other at ease before entering the discussion where we held opposing views of the accounts of the accident. Yet, somehow we were able to recognize that we were not opponents, and therefore relinquished any desire to be right and decided to just listen to each other’s truth as we believed it to be.  

TD Jakes, whom I’ve always known as Bishop Jakes, is an African-American pastor, author and filmmaker. He is the bishop of The Potter's House, a non-denominational American megachurch. He’s considered by many, as one of the most influential African American leaders in the United States. I knew he’d be the most equipped to handle mediation between Steven and I when I wrote into his new talk show. There was a swift response as, Keisean Marshall, one of the show’s producers, contacted me within three days of my submission. “This story is very inspiring,” he said. “I’m going to fight to make sure you guys come on.” Keisean is a man of his word. I boarded a plane for Los Angeles last Tuesday afternoon, we taped the show on Wednesday and it aired on Thursday, Nov.17.

Only three days before what would’ve been Khalilah’s 40th birthday.

Since the show aired, both Steven and I have been flooded with positive praise for the acceptance and compassion we treated one another with. I believe Bishop Jakes initiated that response with his on air approval when he said, “We all go through the same things in different ways, pain doesn’t care if you’re a man, woman, white, black, rich or poor, it attacks everybody the same. If we could learn from these two people how to reach out of our pain and see one other’s perspective and love anyway -- it would make you want to get up out of bed whistling.”  

Wow! What a high compliment from the Bishop. I was elated to have earned his approval. “I think we’ve done something to make both of our parents proud today,” I told Steven after the show.

     On behalf of my mother, Rhonda Y. Turner, and siblings, Theresa, Nadia, Angel and Andrew, we would like to thank the LeClercq family for acknowledging Khalilah C. Turner. Through our story, we can show the world how to let LOVE win!

     To view our Amazing Reunion Stories, T.D. Jakes episode visit: 1047 - Claudia Is Here To Meet The Son Of The Hit & Run Driver That Killed Her Sister (Part 1).

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.          

Adding some creative flair to that Thanksgiving Day feast

  • Written by Janet Boudreau

I've been making the traditional holiday turkey for over 30 years now. You would think that I'd have it down to a science. Nope, not me. The first bird I ever attempted to make came out beautiful...including the bag of giblets inside.

Another year, I decided to skip stuffing the turkey with dressing. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why my turkey was done three hours ahead of time. I had a heck of a time keeping it warm until dinner time. It took a little research to find out why that bird was so ready to go well before the “20 minutes per pound” math.

Easy. The cavity was empty thus the cooking time was shortened. I now stuff whole sticks of carrots, celery and a few lemons into the bird, and it's on time and fabulous!

Traditions, like habits, are hard to break. We want everything the way Mom made it. Despite the bombardment of recipes in magazines for new and improved ways to make pumpkin pie and green bean casserole, it's a slippery slope when you mess with the tried and true. Ask me and my five biggest critics: my husband and four kids.

One year, my oldest son saw me adding sour cream to the mashed potatoes. "What are you doing?" he exclaimed. "You can't do that!" I tried to explain that this was the same way I had been making the potatoes for years. "That's not possible. Please, don't." Throughout the meal, his eyes were like daggers when they met mine. Still, he ate every bite and went back for seconds.

Another year, I decided to try a recipe for sweet potato casserole in place of my usual sweet potatoes with brown sugar and butter. Since only a handful of us like them, I figured it would be a no fuss change. Well, you would think they I tried to rewrite the Constitution! Even a few of my kids who had never touched sweet potatoes were shaking their heads in disbelief.

And, finally, the year of the “Little Green Balls.” Like a lot of kids, mine are fussy veggie eaters, so I have canned corn for them. For me and my husband and any adventurous guests, I like to make something nice, like Brussels sprouts. About three years ago, we were all sharing this wonderful meal, talking and laughing and having an all-around great time. Suddenly, I happened to glance at my husband with his fork in mid-air with a shiny little orb on the end. He looked at me and said, "You know, Jane, I really don't like these little green balls."

A silence fell over the table. I think some of the kids hid their knives. I started to sputter, "After almost 30 years? Now you're telling me?" With that, he popped that little nugget in his mouth and not another word was said.

I'm starting to like the power I wield at the holiday table. In fact, when I sit down to write the menu later, I may peruse a few magazines and find something new to cause a stir. This might be the new tradition.

Jane Boudreau is a writer and lifestyle blogger. She is a longtime resident of Evergreen Park. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Thanksgiving Day does not have to fade to black

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Thanksgiving Day is just one week away. This is the time of the year in which we are reminded to celebrate the holiday with family and friends.

I’m all for that. Of course, we know that so-called Black Friday has been creeping into Thursday night in an attempt to draw more customers. I have seen editorials, columns and Facebook posts condemning this practice that infringes on Thanksgiving. In some households, it’s all about eating dinner, watching football games and talking awhile.

Then it is off to the races – or in this case – the malls. Those sales apparently are too attractive to some of us who finish dessert and then go out and shop.

As for me, I don’t condemn or promote the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving night. After three days at work, I like to relax after the large dinner with all the trimmings. Spending time with family is more important to me than racing out the door to find a sale on some appliance.

But from what I have been reading of late, more and more retailers are resisting the temptation to open their doors on Thanksgiving night. Many of the nation’s major retailers will be closed on Thanksgiving. According to one published report, Toys R Us, J.C. Penney and Nordstrom will be closed. T.J. Maxx has never opened on Thanksgiving. The nation’s largest mall, Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minn., will also be closed.

I suppose these retailers should be commended. But I’m guessing there is more to it than that. Some store owners began closing on Thanksgiving the past couple of years. They have been praised in articles and TV programs for their consideration for employees, who can celebrate the whole day off for Thanksgiving. The simple fact of the matter is that the idea of racing out on Thanksgiving night to shop is beginning to lose its luster.

Part of the reason is online shopping, which has steadily grown over the years. Another reason is that although there might be a lot of people walking throughout the mall, little shopping was taking place. When my daughter would occasionally go out on Thanksgiving night with friends, they bought very little. It was just an opportunity to get together, walk through the mall, and maybe have some coffee.

The fact that many retailers opened up on Thanksgiving night in earnest about five years ago ended up hurting businesses on Black Friday. These business owners began to realize that is hard to sustain high revenue numbers when you open the previous day with numerous sales. Or maybe people are just beginning to smarten up. You don’t have to restrict yourself by going to out to bump shoulders with other customers on Black Friday. This may come as a shock to some people but there will be plenty of sales through December.

The term Black Friday unofficially dates back to the 1960s when the day after Thanksgiving became the busiest day of the holiday shopping season. Black refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand. The red ink was a loss while the black ink meant a profit was turned.

However, the origin of Black Friday really dates back to the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade that began in 1924. This slowly developed into the start of the holiday shopping season. Most residents did not originally get the day off after Thanksgiving. But more of us began to take the day off to assure a four-day weekend that included shopping.

But this year, that trend might be slowly changing. Consumers are shopping earlier and looking for sales. Those early shopper are smart. Discounted items begin popping up before Halloween. For parents with larger families and tighter budgets, it probably makes more sense to venture out earlier instead of spending hours fighting crowds on Black Friday.

The busiest shopping days are expected to be in December, according to most forecasts. Actually, if these shopping statistics were more accurate, they would show that most people shop in December. Some of us still have to save up as much as possible to buy even discounted items. And there are those people – and I’m not one of them – who wait as long as possible to get heavily discounted items. These are the same people who get a rush out of dealing with crowded malls and tense shoppers. I try to get done earlier than that. I will not venture out two or three days before Christmas to go shopping.

The experts state that the biggest shopping day of this year will be Friday, Dec. 23, two days before Christmas. Another report states that “Super Sunday,” is expected to be highest on Dec. 17. I will do my best to be nearly done before those dates, super or not.

And that still means that I won’t be rushing out the door to buy a big screen TV. Besides, I already got one, long before Black Friday. And, yes, it was on sale.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Cubs prove that "curses; can be broken, and that is a lesson for all of us

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Claudia-NEW

In game seven of the World Series on Nov 2 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, the Cubs battled the Indians valiantly and won the series 4-3. It’s estimated that 40 million viewers watched the tumultuous, rollercoaster, win unfold.  

“Mom, I’ve never seen you interested in watching baseball,” stated my 9-year-old daughter, Donae.

“Are you kidding me?” I yapped with eyes glued to the television and heart pumping. It was the eighth inning, with the Cubs leading 6-4, and here comes Rajai Davis tying the game with a two-run home run off pitcher Aroldis Chapman. “My interest isn’t necessarily in baseball. I’m interested in watching history as it develops!”

And oh yes, history was made all right. Those Cubbies proved they could overcome in the 10th inning when they took home the World Series title they’ve sought for 108 years. Their win was so monumental, local news reported five million fans from all over the United States poured into Chicago streets and into Grant Park smothering the grass for the celebration. It’s now considered the seventh-largest gathering in human history.

It took a lot of grit, but with the right players, skill, tenacity and faith-filled fans, the dreadful curse was finally overturned. That was some kind of curse and as the legend is told, all it took was the spoken words of one angry fan.

For those unfamiliar with the story, a man by the name of William (Billy) Sianis had a pet goat named Murphy whom he brought to Wrigley Field for game four as the Cubs played the Detroit Tigers in the 1945 World Series.

Apparently, several fans complained about Murphy’s odor and petitioned that he be removed from the ballpark. While Sianis’ exact words are unknown, it’s been recounted throughout the years that he vowed with assurance the Cubs would never see another World Series title again. Imagine that -- all with the utterance of the tongue.

And so it was so for 71 years!

Mr. Sianis passed away in October of 1970. However, it’s been stated that he allegedly regretted his curse and attempted to break it to no avail.

How many times have we said something we’ve regretted and thought we could fix it with an apology only to find we’ve done irreversible damage?

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

It’s not only irresponsible to spout off at the mouth, it’s dangerous. There’s far more at risk than losing baseball games. There are people walking around like the living dead, unable to move passed the hurtful things that have been spoken over them. And the offenders in some cases justify themselves with comments like, “Well, the truth hurts,” or “I’m just telling it like it is…”

If I were you, I would proceed with caution. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Yes, Matthew 7:2 has sobered up my slur of the tongue of various occasions. Sometimes we have to self-reflect when people come against us and ask, “Are they sowing negative seed or am I reaping the harvest of mine?”

As we enter into the holiday season, let's make it our mission to speak life over people. Let's help to lift the curse of someone’s low self-esteem, depression and anxiety with words of kindness, affirmation, encouragement and love. I believe you will reap bountifully, as the Lord your God will set you above and not beneath and cause His blessings to overtake you. One of my favorite acronyms is … Think!

Before you speak, consider the following.

T – is it true?

H – is it helpful?

I – is it inspiring?

N – is it necessary?

K – is it kind?

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter.