Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

big deal

The Best Advice So Far - big deal

This Thanksgiving held changes for my family.

My mom has been putting in long hours for a while now, caring for her own mother, so that my 93-year-old Nana can continue to enjoy the familiarity and comfort of living in her home of more than 60 years.

In addition to being plumb tuckered out most days, mom was also sick heading into Thanksgiving day.

So for the first time ever, we had our small family Thanksgiving out at a local restaurant instead of at my mom’s house. No preparation. No dishes to do afterward. No leftovers to wrap and store. However odd it felt to set aside tradition this year, no one could refute the sense in it.

We were seated at a spacious, horseshoe booth at about 12:30. The meal was catered, buffet style.

Our server was a young woman named Kim. After making introductions around the table, I asked Kim if she would have any time after her shift ended to join her own family for Thanksgiving meal or desert. She paused, smiled in that way people so often do when they are trying to sound positive about something negative, and said, “All of my family has passed away.”

“Oh no…” I replied. “All of them? Or do you mean there’s just no one local?”

Kim sighed, though her half-smile stayed in place. “Well, I have some distant relatives, cousins. But my own family are all gone now. I figured I’d work today so that people who do have families could be with them.”

I took a moment to just hold Kim’s gaze and let that heavy disclosure stand in silence. Then I said, “Well, we will be your family for today. Let us be your comfortable table, no stress, OK?”

Kim was genuinely appreciative as she explained the buffet setup, then went to fill our drink order.

The meal was good. Plenty of offerings. And I was glad for my mother’s reprieve.

Kim stopped by many times to check on us. She was pleasant and did seem to relax and just be herself when she came to our table. After serving dessert, she brought the bill.

“Kim,” I said, “would you consider yourself an open person?”

Her eyes were curious. She nodded. “Yes, I think I am.”

I stood up to face her. “Good to know. Because… [click link below to continue reading this post]

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in between

in between 2 - The Best Advice So Far

So, Thanksgiving was last week. Using my superpower-status deductive reasoning skills, I’ve concluded with reasonable certainty that Thanksgiving, then, is not also this week. And what a relief that revelation is! Sure, sure, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with the best of people. But all that … thankfulness! It’s such a drain, isn’t it? Which is why it’s a darned good thing that a day for being thankful only comes round once a year. Who could handle more?

And this applies, naturally, to other holidays and occasions. What a bother it would be to celebrate and affirm people on days other than their birthday, for instance. Can you imagine! Getting someone a card and filling it up with positive things about them, or taking them to dinner for no reason – in between birthdays? Preposterous! Not only would this be an extreme inconvenience to the giver, but the receiver would certainly tire almost immediately of being treated with this kind of special care and appreciation.

Anniversaries? I mean really, I’m surprised it hasn’t yet become a federal law that anniversary celebrations should be limited to once every five years – or, better yet, ten – instead of every single year.

“I love you.”

“I’m glad I picked you and that you picked me.”

“You look as beautiful to me today as ever.”

“Congratulations on another year of marriage. You two are an inspiration.”

Blah. Blah. Blah. Drivel! Imagine the tedium of speaking or having to hear such cloying rubbish more than once a year! What a waste of energy – energy that could be better spent on more important things like … like work, or like paying attention to the plot of a favorite television program, for instance.

The same goes for Valentine’s Day. I mean, not everyone even has a “somebody” on Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t there be some kind of mandated baseline of solidarity on this? But, no! Seriously, wouldn’t it be so much easier for the “haves” among us to just act like the “have-nots” and go about their day without all the hoopla and distraction and nonsense? At least there is the small comfort in knowing that the in between days are refreshingly free of ridiculous notions like doing nice things for one another, expressing ourselves in creative ways, having romantic dinners out or exchanging little tokens of love.

Oh, and … whatever it is each person is calling the upcoming winter holidays. Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. Seems to me that it’s just another cause for irritating one another. First, you have to worry about how you’re going to well-wish anyone. God (or whomever) forbid that you bestow the wrong wish on someone, or they on you. Really, why bother trying to be nice at all, when you know you run a high risk of offending or being offended each time?

And then there’s this weird phenomenon where strangers talk to one another at all – on city sidewalks, at the mall, in offices. How intrusive! All this interrupting one another with smiling and “good cheer”and whatnot. Isn’t it exhausting? Do you know there are even songs that wish for this kind of collective mood and behavior to “last the whole year through”? One even encourages people by saying, “Don’t save it all for Christmas Day”! Oh, Pop music and your eternal silliness.  Who could handle such interactions steadily during all those months in between?

Couple this with yet another big meal with too many people gathered in one house, all the noise of those clinking glasses and laughter and the music of the same old songs. I guess all one can do is plow on through to that long, uncomplicated stretch of normal winter on the other side of it all, when we can take down all those lights, get our noses back to those grindstones and, for Pete’s sake, stop being so darned nice to one another.

Alas, you know what they say: “You can’t fight City Hall.” So, it seems for the time being at least, we’re stuck with these little holidays – once a year, every year. I guess we’ll just have to suck it up and deal with it. But please, please … don’t perpetuate the problem by coloring outside the lines. You have your allotted days for love and appreciation and gifts without reason. Don’t go upsetting the apple cart by doing and saying holiday-like things or dishing out the lovey-dovey appreciation and kindness with the people around you during the days in between.

Who’s with me on this?

(The answer, I hope … is “no one.”)

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our gang: part 2

our gang part 2 - Best Advice So Far

In May, I wrote a post called “our gang,” which turned out to be one of the most read, shared and discussed posts in my more than four years of blogging. This Thursday having been Thanksgiving, I got to hang with “our gang” again; and it prompted some cool new thoughts.

I often say (and, in fact, mentioned in the original post in May) that holidays with “our gang” are as close to walking into a Norman Rockwell painting as anyone could hope to get. Traditions run deep with us. The Thanksgiving meal has included the same items made the same way, for the twenty-two years I’ve been part of the celebration; but those recipes actually go back a century or more, not merely decades.

Since my addition to the mix in 1994, I’ve taken on two very important traditions at holiday meals: rubbing garlic on the toast (two pieces) and tearing it by hand to make the croutons for the salad; and lighting the many candles as the last of the afternoon light fades.

(Side Note: The right lighting is very important in life.)

(Side Note to the Side Note: My mouth literally just watered at the thought of having a turkey sandwich made with mashed potatoes and that gravy, on one of Holly’s rolls!)

But mood lighting, special traditions and phenomenal food made from recipes handed down through generations are not the main reasons for the enveloping feeling of having walked through the looking glass. No, it’s the people. And as I thought about it throughout the day Thursday and continuing through to today, I caught a glimpse of something that really shouldn’t have surprised me, but surprise me it did all the same. It occurred to me that the magic really comes down to one thing: choice.

Today, I want to share with you just a few of the choices that our gang makes consistently with regard to one another – choices that have resulted in the best darned friendships someone could ever hope to have:

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