Thanksgiving Traditions

I’ve always had the best of all worlds when it came to Thanksgiving … none of the work and all of the benefits. Sure, I may have had to make some last minute store runs and fill out the check, but the belly was always full … and I didn’t have to do any of the cavity searches, do any of the basting, juggle the oven.

I was thinking about that as my son and daughter-in-law started this year’s Thanksgiving  countdown. I just got out of their way and let them do their thing. And I thought about Thanksgiving over the years and how it has evolved.

Big Thanksgiving dinners were always the general rule. While growing up, my Mom would prepare sometimes two turkeys with all the fixins and our living room would be converted into a dining room. Dad and I would join my uncles Thanksgiving morning for the annual Eastside-Central gridiron battle at Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson. Rain or shine. Snow or cold. Wind or calm. They were Eastside alum so the success of the day was dependent on the score of the game and much of the table conversation was about big plays and plenty of nostalgia. I think I became a football fan during those formative years. {as an aside, I probably subliminally “met” my wife at those games … Karen was a flag bearer for Central}

Things changed in 1966. I started working as a sports staff writer at the Paterson News, so instead of going to Thanksgiving games, I was covering Thanksgiving games and dinner was deferred until after deadline. By 1967, Karen and I were dating, as was my co-worker Ron and his squeeze Arlene. The girls decided to do the cooking  … in the morgue {where old newspaper clippings and photos were stored}. And another tradition was born.

I left the Paterson News for the New Jersey Herald in Newton in 1972, so Karen shifted the cooking from the morgue to the kitchen of our home. At first, it was a small, late dinner, but after we moved to Illinois in 1975 and the family grew, so did the size of the spread. And we would invite seniors or the kids’ friends or anyone who might be alone to share our bounty.

And so it was … in Ohio, Maryland and New York. When able, our kids would always “come home” with their families in tow. Our last “feast” was in 2007.

Karen, of course, died in September 2008 and the last thing I was thinking about at the time was Thanksgiving. As September melted into October and ultimately November, my oldest son in Illinois suggested I come out there. I did. I packed Karen in my little red truck and off we went.

In 2009, I enjoyed family Thanksgiving fare at my youngest son’s restaurant. For the past two years, I enjoyed turkey and all the fixins at a neighbor’s home. {although I did bake a pie}

This year, I come full circle. My son and daughter-in-law — my new housemates — get to do the cooking and I, well, I get to enjoy the bounty and watch the football games and share Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas  and A Christmas Story with my kids and grandkids.

My Thanksgiving … Life is good.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Your value doesn’t go down because someone mistreated you. You are still the apple of God’s eye. You are still His most prized possession.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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5 Responses to Thanksgiving Traditions

  1. Deanna says:

    This makes me even more sad that I won’t be there. Enjoy Emmet!!


  2. seakist says:

    Your writing is so heartfelt and thought provoking. And by the way, I loved the Paterson News! That paper actually taught me to read as a kid! My aunt who rented the basement apartment below us always had the Paterson News on her table, so I decided to read the comics and skip over words I didn’t know. Surprisingly, I knew more words than I thought! Then I went on to “Dear Abby.” Who knows, maybe I saw one of your articles? 🙂


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