I asked friends and family what their most memorable, poignant or funniest Thanksgivings entailed? My personal favorite memento was from my second son, who said, “Our childhood Thanksgivings would have been great and could have been great. There was lots of food, and we tried to forget who cooked it, so it might have been fine. Unfortunately, at the end of each big Thanksgiving dinner you made us have this awful, awkward dinner conversation by talking about being thankful and telling everyone around the table about something we were grateful for that had happened in the last year. Man, I hated that. I hated that so much.”
We were talking on the phone at the time of his whining and my eyes began to well with tears, not in sadness or regret or even shame. No, I was holding in mirth and it was making me near to bursting with delight at hearing his bellyaching. I knew from the time he was out of the high chair and into his booster seat that he was totally uncomfortable with any holiday dinner conversation that didn’t involve football, torturing his siblings or jokes. I wasn’t concerned with any dislike of sentimentality and continued to force him and the rest of our offspring to talk about those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad feelings of gratefulness, thankfulness, joy and love. Making my kids squirm was the best part of my Thanksgiving. I’ve told you, I’m a terrible mother.
One Thanksgiving, my friend Reg had invited her dad to come along with her family to our home. I’ve always referred to her as “Reg” or “Regi” and on this day, her dad kept talking about doing things with Regina. Even now it causes my friend Reg to burst into guffaws upon realizing what a dolt I am, because, thinking he had a lady friend, I finally asked, “Who the heck is Regina?” Obviously when God was handing out braincells I thought He said, “bluebells” and said I’d take a few.
Some people have sweet memories and precious moments of loving neighbors or being helpful and doting during the holidays. One friend recalled helping his parents in their store on Thanksgiving Day each year. He resented it as a teenager, but now as a doctor, respects all those who work retail, or at restaurants, truck stops, airports or in health care, who have no choice but to serve others on this day.
One comical recollection involved a friend giving everyone a baked potato wrapped in tinfoil on each plate, but replacing it with a rock for her brother-in-law. There were several funny food fails from people’s remembrances, including grandmas who made side dishes involving lemon or lime Jell-O, or salad with questionable contents such as pineapple, pimentos and green olives, but my favorite was when Kathy, who’s geriatric now, was a young mother and trying to have a perfect meal for guests. She’d been decorating cookies with her kids the day before and at that time, brown food coloring came with the blue, green, yellow and red. Her gravy was taupe colored so to darken it, she cleverly added a few drops of the brown food coloring. Unfortunately, the kids hadn’t put on the correct lids to coincide with the bottles and instead of brown, she said, “The gravy turned blue, like ‘Dippity Do,’ the hair stuff, but it tasted okay if you could get it past your eyes.”
One year, our daughter-in-love recited the poem, “Little Thomas” by F. Gwynne Evans, for her portly Uncle Tom. It’s about a little boy who was a glutton and took four times beef or mutton then undid a lower button. We could all relate, couldn’t we?
I’m grateful for a gazillion things and appreciative of much. For one thing, I’m thankful for a husband who puts up with a lot. And why does he do that? Well, mostly because his wife has put up with a vast sum of shenanigans out of him over the years. I’m grateful for our children who like to torture me about my cooking, my rules when they were growing up, or for being dopey. At least they’re talking to me and coming to see me. Heck, they even invite me to their house. I guess they weren’t scarred beyond help after all.
Living for as long as I have, I feel we ought to be thankful, especially that we are living in a country where folks can say what they think, without thinking.
Trena Eiden [email protected]