Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Paying Thanksgiving Attention

By this time Friday, all the drumsticks will have been drummed, all the stuffing unstuffed all the potatoes mashed, turnips turned, veggies sautéed, pureed and candied…and all the good china put away, at least for another month.

One more Thanksgiving will have come and gone, along with another collection of holiday memories and smiles sorted, filed and stored, both in our minds and on our hard-drives.

In fact, by this time, a lot of it will all be just a jumble, mixed in a kettle with all the dozens of holiday memories past.

Like the time Aunt Betty sat on the cranberry and nobody would eat it, except for Uncle Joe who ate anything that was put on the table.

Or the time Pete the Pug decided to sample the right turkey wing, except no one noticed but you, and you weren’t about to snitch.

You only ate white meat that year.

Or that 5 year old kid—not saying what kid—who decided to stuff his pockets with sweet potato pie, just because it felt warm….

What?  November was cold that year, too.

All the details that make our holidays all that they are….

Unless you’re not paying attention…which a lot of us aren’t.

Especially now, when it seems holiday after holiday stacks up to the rooftops and beyond, so many, so quickly.

Last year I wrote how the holidays seem to come in waves now, one after the other, overtaking us, threatening to wash us out to sea.

The year before, I talked about all the old holiday photographs we have stuffed in boxes, somewhere in the attic…the roadmaps to our past, staring back at us from countless Thanksgiving tables long gone by.

And the year before that, the significance of all those small town holidays shared with family and friends, some still with us, many rejoining us ...and many now past.

Nostalgic themes, all, connecting one holiday to the next, each with its own special flavor, blended into a whole.

A lot of people ask me how I remember so many details of those special days….I mean, the ones I don’t make up.

I respond, “I pay attention…to everything.” 

I always have…and I hope I always will.

To my grandmother’s aprons, festooned with all the holiday embellishments, such as gravy, sweet potato, mashed potato, stuffing, string beans, carrots, onions, pumpkin pie….

You could always tell the menu at Grandma’s house whenever she walked by.

My dad’s bad jokes…my aunts unbridled laugh, my mom’s harried frown, my uncles’ fiery debate, my cousins playing hot potato with the hot potatoes…and my gramps contented smile as he too took it all in, from the head of the table.

So it’s important to pay attention…not to your smart phone, or tablet or whatever particular celebrity booty is prancing across your TV during the parade…but to all the little things and big things, little people and big people, things being said, things being done and everything in between.

It’s those details that make it all special…that make your holidays…that make your life.

Sure, it’s a recurring theme of mine and a struggle, always, still, to practice it.

Not just for the holidays, but for every day in between

But as long as we have the chance to try…it’s enough to give Thanksgiving.

So think about that tomorrow, when you’re carving up the turkey, worrying about your pie or trying to figure out how to put a positive spin on Aunt Betty’s specially prepared cranberry.

Take it all in…the good the bad, the laughs and the sad. 

You’re making memories…it’s what Thanksgiving’s for.

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  1. Beautifully put, Brian! Wishing you and yours a very happy, thankful Thanksgiving ~

    1. Thanks Pami...our second Thanksgiving...54 years apart! I hope you'll save a drumstick for me, this year. Heck...actually I just hope you don't pretend to be not home again, this year....

  2. happy thanksgiving, brian! and yes, it's the little things. when we were little, every thanksgiving we would play a card game called 71/2 where you would bet pennies on your cards and we played with all our relatives at my grandma's dining room table. those were great times...

    1. And I bet you still have most of those pennies! Happy TG to you too, Nichole and the entire family...especially the Wookster. Does she get her own Turkey?

    2. And one day I promise to spell your name right!

    3. the wookie eats raw so she gets thanksgiving every single day.....have you ever played taboo?

    4. it was collecting dust for many years.... played last weekend, so much fun!! you guys woudl love it...invite the zombies over to play...

    5. Zombies don't understand the concept of Taboo....

  3. You are so right. You made me think of Our Town while I was walking with Snowball this morning -- the kind of Thanksgivings they might have had. Then I saw a sign for ADT, and I thought how far we have come from the happy, simple days depicted by Thornton Wilder in his memorable play.

    1. Thanks, Joan! Well someone has to protect all the Turkeys among us. Have a great TG. I'm sure you'll be surrounded by friends and family ten fold.... Hope you're not cooking!


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