This article originally appeared in The Somerville News on November 26, 2008.
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)
What do you think of when you think of Thanksgiving? For me, it’s giving thanks, then eating a huge turkey dinner with the family. Before the actual day, it’s the preparation ritual, which includes going in stores and seeing overflowing displays of foil cooking pans, gravy master, stovetop stuffing, Bell’s Seasoning, frozen Butterballs, endless pies and endless lines. On Wednesday afternoon you won’t be able to get near McKinnon’s or Lyndells. The big grocery chain stores will be jammed as well. That’s when we become thankful just to find a parking space, so we can be part of the lines.
I remember when my mother was in her “all hands on deck” mode the day before Thanksgiving. I can still see my dad sharpening that big knife in the kitchen. It was understood that he got the neck, the giblets and all the parts no one else wanted. I was the one who had to run down to Stop and Shop in Davis Square on Wednesday for last minute items. And every year there is that 11th hour Thanksgiving Day frantic trip to a Store 24 for something, usually more butter. You look at the other customers who are there and agree that you all should be at home instead of at a convenience store. I am thankful that I overbuy and stockpile cranberry sauce, butter – and Lipitor.
On Thanksgiving I think back to when we were at the kiddie table. A time when our parents, grandparents and all of our aunts and uncles were still alive, and we didn’t have a care in the world. Losing a cousin at an early age was unheard of. Ours was an invincible family. We never ever thought that there would be a time that some of them would not be with us. Now, as we get older there are less of them still here, so we use our memories to bring us back to those happy times, not that these times aren’t good, because they certainly are.
I for one always try to be thankful that we have reasonably good health and the kids are all happy and thriving. What works for me is the phrase: “it could always be worse…” I feel lucky and grateful for my family and friends, both of them!
Thanksgiving means that it’s almost time to get serious about Christmas shopping and more endless lines. Every year I tell myself that it’s no use to panic because it always turns out fine. We are conditioned to go into the frantic Christmas mode the day after Thanksgiving – just think of all the Christmases we have survived – why should this one be any different? We will survive. Stay home on Friday and have a turkey sandwich. Thanksgiving means football (go Highlanders!) and settling in after dinner to watch endless college and NFL games. If we are lucky we will get one of those balmy Thanksgiving days where the temperatures are in the 50’s.
It’s funny how the things I am thankful for now are different than the things I was thankful for 25 years ago. I used to be thankful that I had enough beers left for the next day. Today I hope we don’t run out of milk and juice boxes. I used to be thankful Kay and Chips stayed open until the wee hours of the morning serving breakfast. Today I am thankful if I stay awake for a TV show that’s on at 8 p.m. I used to be thankful for days off from school. Now I am hoping they approve the extended school day.
I remember being thankful that I completed a 2-mile jog. I thank heaven today if I can go up the stairs to my bedroom without getting winded. I remember being thankful for my Camaro Z28 convertible. Today I am thankful to rest on my Castro convertible sofa. I used to check out chicks, now I check out library books (ok, and chicks while at the library). I used to thank God for my long rock n’ roll hair. Today I am thankful if the drain doesn’t clog up with hair after I shower. I used to be thankful that I was thin and I had big hair. Now my stomach is big and my hair is thin. I remember I thanked the Lord when my daughter graduated from College. I later thanked God, Allah and Buddha when she decided to take that hideous nose ring out and let the hole close.
Here are some more things I am thankful for today: my pillows, my bed, my remote controls and my dog. I am thankful for my big TV, sports on TV, The Three Stooges, Seinfeld, The Honeymooners, birthday cakes, my camper in NH and pizza to name a few more. I used to yell out “yippie” when I’d come home and discover my parents had left for the cape for the weekend. Today I’d give anything to spend an hour with them. Wouldn’t I love seeing mom scurrying about the kitchen and dad snoring in front of the TV.