OK, so it's never going to become a noteworthy classic poem, no big whoop.
But we can now officially proclaim that the "holiday" season is upon us (starting tomorrow, anyway).
I will say that if there was ANY day that was worth staying home and filling one's face, it was Thanksgiving.
My Mom always made a real "sit-down" dinner on Sundays, but she pulled out ALL the damn stops on Thanksgiving Day. Only Christmas and Easter dinners came close to Turkey day.
Now we were only a family of THREE (four if you count our dog), and you'd think it wasn't that big a deal...but for mom...it WAS. It looked like she was cooking for the freaking WALTONS...LOL!
We had to put the center leaf in the dinner table to hold ALL the food she made.
But there was a method to her "madness"...
We had LEFTOVERS for literally weeks!
Of course back then, being frugal with one's finances was pretty close at the top of the short-list as being "Job-One".
Dad didn't make all that much at the plant where he ran a lithography press (printed on sheet metal for cans), and having luxuries such as (taken for granted today) like a CAR...or a COLOR TV were on the back burner. Dad got a ride to work, or took a few buses (when they ran in snowy weather, that is). And unlike a lot of people today...my parents DID like to PAY THEIR BILLS!
So Mom & Dad made sure we always had a warm place to sit and sleep, food on our table, and a real reason to be truly thankful, not just on ONE day, but all year long.
Maybe it's just me, but we're kinda missing that today.
Many large families are scattered across the country (if not the globe), and having everyone together gets harder and more expensive every year. The fortunate ones that CAN have family gather for Thanksgiving, manage to do so.
But there is always that "empty chair" at the table...
It could be due to a loved one's passing during the year, or it could be a soldier's deployment overseas, or perhaps a family member is too ill or getting too far along in years to make the journey for Thanksgiving.
Whatever the reason, those of us remaining muddle on.
Such is my case this year.
Traditions are what I like to think of as the "icing on life's cake".
It's something you look forward to, and in many cases, you LIVE for every year.
It doesn't have to be the biggest or the best...just the most cherished.
And making it a bit "fun" doesn't hurt one bit. either.
My wife and I have been doing such a thing for almost a decade with our Aunt and Uncle in Portland.
We invited them up for Thanksgiving dinner one year...and it stuck like glue. Every year, they'd arrive around 1300 hrs, and we'd do our Thanksgiving "dinner" (more like a late lunch...a BIG late lunch/dinner/buffet) at our house, with all the trimmings (and those gifts for the lucky participants like the holiday stuffed bears we get them every year - they now need a larger sofa to accommodate them all). Yeah, it's not much, but we ALWAYS put our hearts into it, and it's become the closest thing to recapturing what I once had with my parents. And yes, it WAS worth the work that went into it...definitely worth it.
Like I say, you can't "redo" a past tradition...you CAN however, make new ones. And that's pretty much what we've done.
Sad thing is, our aunt and uncle are getting up and years, and that 45 minute drive up from Portland and back again becomes taxing on them both.
So this year, it's just my wife and myself.
Again...more empty chairs.
But I still plan to conduct our "dinner" as usual.
I'll be up bright and early, making the stuffing, peeling the spuds (ahh, the memories abounding there), setting the table, and being thankful for what we have, and who we can share it (and ourselves) with, even if it's just the two of us (well, and the cats too).
And we will drive down to Portland to visit our aunt & uncle, taking some of our dinner with us for them (along with the holiday bear...what, you thought we'd forget THAT? Shame on you). Our uncle likes my ham and stuffing, and I can't put him in withdrawal...what can I say?
We haven't really done away with our tradition...we've just "modified" it to suit the new parameters specific to the venue.
When life tosses you lemons...you get your ass in gear and make LEMONADE, right?
It will seem odd to not hear them pull into the driveway this year, and I'd being lying if I said otherwise.
Then again, this is no more unusual than what will be happening across dinner tables around the country.
Few will be the dinner tables that do not have an empty chair.
But life is like that.
Life, like time does move on. It is always in flux...it has currents and eddies.
It carries every one of us along on our own journey.
Our task is to make sure we can adapt as need be; to be able to still enjoy every moment given to us, and to make those moments mean something not only to ourselves, but to those whose lives we touch.
And that is definitely something to be thankful for.
So, to all my friends and family that have gone on ahead of me, and to all our warriors that cannot be home with their loved ones and to all the men and women of our law-enforcement and fire departments...you are not (nor have ever been) forgotten.
And to one and all...DO have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, no matter where you find yourself.