Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There’s not a lot of pomp and ceremony to it. No disappointment in gifts exchanged. We gather with loved ones. Watch football. And stuff ourselves silly.
It’s also a good day to remember and to reflect.
To begin with, autumn has always been my favorite season. The incredible red, orange, and sienna foliage. The smell of burnt chestnuts that can bring me back to a brisk day in Manhattan in a New York minute.
My memories of Thanksgiving Day growing up were of helping my mother prepare the stuffing, from scratch of course, using day old stale bread. She’d sew the turkey with thread and then panic when she couldn’t find the needle (this happened annually). I recall the aroma of roasting turkey and of thyme filling the room. The television was tuned in to Laurel and Hardy’s “March of the Wooden Soldiers” which aired every Thanksgiving. Most of all I recall the intangible feeling of comfort I felt on that day.
I think most Americans feel that way. And the great thing about this holiday is that it is so inclusive. Even an immigrant who has resided in the U.S. for less than a year is made to feel as though his ancestors met the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. Everyone is welcomed, not only to partake in the holiday, but to enhance it with his own cultural flavor. A Vietnamese family might serve lemongrass soup before the turkey is brought out. A Polish family might offer up kielbasa as an appetizer. And the variations on stuffing are endless: Middle Easterners adding dates, Africans adding peanuts, Mexicans adding cilantro, and so on.
As for me, I’ve retained some traditions (I make my stuffing the same way as my mother did) and have incorporated some new ones as I raised my own family. These days the television is often tuned to a Twilight Zone marathon as we prepare for the festivities. My daughter makes a wonderful cauliflower dish and my son makes delicious home made cranberry sauce each year. We’ve lost loved ones who used to grace our table, and we’ve added people to the table as well. I suppose in some way that’s a metaphor for life.
On this day I try not to look at the negatives but instead to be appreciative for that which I have to be grateful: My wonderful children, old, cherished friends who have been so supportive, and new relationships that continue to grow stronger. I am thankful for my relatives, including my brother, sisters, nieces, nephews, and cousins with whom I got together recently to celebrate my brother’s birthday. I am grateful for memories of a good marriage. I am grateful to have the opportunity of making an impact on the lives of young people and I am very grateful to have rediscovered my passion for writing. And by the way, I’m grateful to those of you who have been faithfully following my blog and for all your encouraging words.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and thank you again for joining me along,
RHODES LESS TRAVELED