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.