View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Thanksgiving memory

While driving around this evening – taking Nana back to her home after she’d spent the day with us, then going to visit my father, who could not be with us – I was listening to a humorist on the radio recalling childhood Thanksgivings.

I have vivid childhood memories of Christmas, New Years, Easter, and even Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

But I have few memories of Thanksgiving.

I vaguely recall my mother cooking a big meal, and football on television, but that’s about it.

I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s just that Thanksgiving Day was not big in my family.

Maybe the fact that I never liked turkey and was not happy about eating it had something to do with it. (Being a vegetarian allows me to avoid it now!)

I do have one vivid Thanksgiving memory from adulthood.

In 1979, I was living with two friends, having just finished college. We decided to host all our families for Thanksgiving at our apartment, with us preparing the entire meal.

The mothers were skeptical. They kept offering to make things for the meal – just in case.

We said no.

We worked on it for weeks, planning the meal, buying the food, collecting enough chairs and place settings for all our guests.

I remember the day.

The families arrived. They were full of questions about the meal – the smell of which filled the apartment.

It was clear they had doubts.

Then we began to serve.

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, peas, cranberries, homemade bread, salad, and apple, pecan and pumpkin pies. The one non-traditional dish was fried rice (I was a vegetarian by that point).

The parents kept remarking how good it all was. It was as if they were struggling with the idea that their 20-something sons could pull off such a feast.

I was even asked for my fried rice recipe.

Very satisfying.

We only did it once. By the following year I was married.

I’ve had family Thanksgivings since – hosted now by my wife and me. The food is always good. My wife does most of the cooking, with her mother and I also preparing dishes. This year, my oldest daughter – now married – contributed a fine apple pie. And the two youngest daughters made the salad.

A true family feast.

Still, that Thanksgiving of 26 years ago is the one I remember best.


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