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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving? I Hope It Is For You

The chicken does the hard work all year.
For a complex series of reasons, I'm no longer thrilled with the holidays. I'd kinda wish they'd just pass on by. So, to me the question is, "Happy Thanksgiving?" No... But I hope it is for you. 

Part of the reason I'm disappointed with the 2011 version of our holiday season is that for two decades or more, I was spoiled. My mother was phenomenal around the holidays. I told a friend of mine today, "The holidays were magical when I was younger."

My mother was an artist, a good cook, a whiz with crafts and a meticulous perfectionist. Everything was perfect. Decorations adorned the house. The kitchen produced the most aromatic smells. Our dining room table looked like a photograph from a magazine. But it wasn't just the day, it was all the days that came before the "day" - be it Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day or New Year's Day.

All of the preparation was half the excitement. Going to the market to buy the turkey, ham or Slovenian sausages. Seeing golden cookies emerge from the oven. Having relatives stopping by with Hungarian nut rolls and more traditional cookies. Oh, the cookies. I could have lived on those cookies.

As children, my brother, sister and I all had chores to help with the preparation. Cleaning wasn't the exciting part, but decorating was always a treat.

Along with all the buzz at home were the activities at school and church. I was an altar boy and I was always involved in the big holiday services. Practicing for the big service was just another element of excitement.

Through the years, and as I grew up, the traditions shifted. For about 10 years, I was Santa Claus. I'd rent the most expensive suit every year with the best hair and beard. Then, I would go to several homes and be the big guy in the red suit with the sack of toys. Seeing those little kids light up or getting them to overcome their fears to come sit on Santa's lap were such precious memories.

Then my mother came down with Alzheimer's, I moved away and she passed. My wife at the time was good with the holidays, too, but she left me a number of years ago. My daughter, who is only 11 is still with her, and I wound up 2,300 miles away, kind of against my will.

To me, my daughter meant everything. She gave the holidays meaning. Now, they're just days. And that's why I featured a chicken in the picture. The poor bastards get their wings and fingers eaten. They get beer cans shoved up their asses. All year, the chicken pulls the hard duty, and then on Thanksgiving a freakin' turkey steps on to center stage.

I feel a bit like that chicken, I've been roasted, broiled, grilled, deep fried and dissected all year, and now I have no place to go.

Oh, I'll be at my sister's house. We'll eat. The food will be great. But it will never be the same without my daughter. And it won't be until I'm back with her.

So, I'll probably be at Denny's on Thanksgiving, writing. I'll take a break to eat some turkey with my sister, brother-in-law and my two grown nieces. They're wonderful people, but my "family" is 2,300 miles away.

You can lose your money, your home, whatever object you want, but when you've lost your family, that is hard.

I guess my point would be, if you have your family with you, love them. Love them and be thankful that they are there. Be thankful that they can hug you or you can see their smiles. Be thankful you can hear their voices and not be holding a phone to your head.

A day may come where everyone gets scattered. Those hugs and smiles won't be in real life 3D anymore and that is when everything will feel different.

The one thing I've learned in life is that the most precious thing we have is time. It is fleeting. And for me, time is passing along and I'm not where I want to be. Don't waste the time you have. Make the most of it. Decorate. Bake the cookies. Invite people over who might be alone. Hug your kids and tell them you love them. Give them memories that will last a lifetime. You don't have to be extravagant. Just be there. Do simple things to make the day and time special. Memories can never be taken away.

My memories spoiled me. I'm thankful for my mother and father and the way they made the holidays special. I just wish I could be with my daughter to do the same.

Happy Thanksgiving? Not for me... But for you... I hope it is the best you've ever had. We only get so many... don't waste them. And have chicken on Sunday. Put that poor bastard back to work.

God Bless You.

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