Sunday, November 21, 2004

Thanksgiving thoughts

Thanksgiving Day is almost upon us and, as usual, my family will gather together for dinner. It's hard to believe that this will be our 11th Thanksgiving in our home. It seems like only yesterday that we crammed the family into the kitchen and extended the kitchen table as far as it could go.

My wife will make her usual wonderful meal. There is, of course, a lot of work involved and we all have our assignments to help the preparation move along. I get the husband's traditional job of carving the turkey and pouring the wine. (My wife will probably say those are the only tasks I can handle!) Even with a double oven, four-burner stove, microwave oven and all the modern gadgets and gizmos that Williams-Sonoma can invent, it still is an effort to pull it all together.

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. It's centered around two of my favorite pastimes -- football and eating! It's also one of the few holidays that isn't really weather-dependent. The 4th of July should always be hot and sunny while Christmas, of course, should always be white! But Thanksgiving can go either way -- here in northern Illinois we've had warm Thanksgivings and we had a White Thanksgiving a couple of years ago!

I also consider Thanksgiving to be the forgotten holiday. It's sandwiched between the more popular, participative holidays of Halloween and Christmas. It seems like the stores are all decorated in fall and Halloween colors beginning August 1 and as soon as the jack-o-lantern candles are blown out, the stores switch to Christmas decorations. We were out driving last Saturday evening and a lot of houses had their outdoor Christmas lights on -- and it's only November 20! Two houses even had a fully decorated tree inside! Maybe I'm just "old school" when it comes to Thanksgiving.

I think back to when I was a little kid and my mom would make holiday dinners for us with only a single oven, no microwave and no fancy cutlery (although Dad finally gave in and bought an electric carving knife). We lived in a postwar, 1950s-era tract home with a small, cramped kitchen. To this day, I don't know how she did it, but we always had turkey with all of the trimmings -- and she seemed to do it so effortlessly. I imagine all the moms did that too. I know my recollection is as a child so it's not the most accurate depiction of what really happened, but it's still a happy memory.

Please keep all of our service men and women in your prayers this Thanksgiving.