Wonderment is the best way to describe kids’ reactions whenever I tell them that my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Most are quick to ask, “How could that day be your favorite, when you don’t even get presents?” Naturally, most children believe that Christmas should be everyone’s favorite holiday.
However, when I begin to tell them about all the great things that they can do with other kids, and the feelings of what that day brings to so many when shared with others, their bright eyes open wider than any Charles Dickens’ tale could ever do.
I spent the past three Thanksgivings near my wife’s family down in California. The social gathering was always warm and pleasant.
The adults usually gathered in the kitchen or dining area to chat and eat appetizers, while the kids congregated in the designated play area. Every year we played football, which included age groups from 45 down to seven. If you were a Vogue or GQ subscriber, you need not apply—everyone had to be tough to play. My sisters-in-law, Barbie and Cathy were the gridiron enforcers, and they each talked more trash than Chad Ochocinco and hit harder than Ray Lewis. Icepacks and sprained ankles, notwithstanding, those were some good times.
Now, Mary, the girls, and I, are back in beautiful Lake Stevens, looking to rekindle memories with friends who we missed during our three-year hiatus.
I am hoping for brisk, yet sunny conditions, and looking forward to stirring up the neighborhood with some smash-mouth pigskin rankling against the adolescent males who will be looking to impress the girls with their perceived football prowess—little do they know, a surprise awaits them.
And though the day will not rival anything like Hyannis Port with the Kennedys, there will be dramatic moments.
The smells and tastes of Thanksgiving are the epitome of culinary excellence unmatched by any other holiday meal presentation. Just consider the spread of turkey, ham, stuffing, greens, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes, to be followed by apple, pumpkin, and sweet potato pies, waiting to test the outer-limits of your New Year’s resolution.
Whenever I think about the food, it always takes me back to my childhood growing up in New York, remembering my mother rising at 3:30 a.m. that last Thursday in November, to begin her annual cooking ritual. No matter how old I get, I always remember to call home.
Thanksgiving offers a time to reflect on a year soon to pass. And it gives us all that chance to think about the true meaning of giving to others far less fortunate than ourselves.
There is a special feeling you get in your heart when you see the faces of the people at homeless shelters as they thank you for providing that much needed meal that they prayed for yesterday.
With a warm heart also comes a few tears as you watch them walk away to sit at the tables provided. Still, no other day is more special. And no other thought of the meaning of Thanksgiving is more special than knowing that on this day you made a difference in the lives of others.