Giving thanks

Nephew Greg is downstairs, and his dad and mom and one of his sisters and her two offspring. We were not sure my sister would show up, but her need to aid in the final scenes of another family member has come to its natural conclusion.

My cousin Betty left us Monday morning. She and I were within months of the same age, but from there, we differed some. When we were kids, I lived on the shore of a lake in Maine; she lived in suburban Long Island. I thought skinny-dipping in the lake after a long day’s work was a relaxing experience; Betty could never see the point in living in a place so secluded one could get away with even thinking of skinny-dipping.

She won typing competitions and could, I’ve been told, make a Royal typewriter – one of those early models that required a chisel and a ball-peen hammer to operate – scream with pain in its effort to keep up with her flying fingers.

I was the only guy in my high school typing class, kicked out after a couple weeks because I could type, incorrectly but quickly, on an IBM Selectric, and was distracting to the girls on the manual machines whose futures depended on their learning to type correctly and quickly.

In the end, a cancer did her in. I’m glad she’s done having to deal with that.

As I think these thoughts, labor continues on preparation for the annual turkey-stupification, in which, like hippies at a love-in, we gather around the feast, pass around the plate, and when it’s gone, repair to sofa, easy chair or floor for a much needed nap.

This is the part where Mom would have spent the past few days lining the porch rail with fresh-baked mincemeat and pumpkin pies. A large sauce pan would be filled with cranberry sauce – the real stuff, with berries and that sweetly tart flavor.

In some families, the men-folk would be in the woods, hunting the elusive venison that would, they hoped, fill a goodly portion of their freezer with nourishment to be consumed during the coming winter.

The feast is a time for thinking what we are thankful for. Among my favorite people, in no particular order:

• The warriors who have spent, and will spend, too much of their youth in lands many of them could not find on a map, defending their loved ones at home from the evils of war waged for the sake of waging war, and for the profits of arms sellers who, without war, would have to find honest work.

• Police who don their shield and gun and patrol our streets, putting their lives in what they hope will not be too-serious danger so the rest of us can eat and sleep in safety.

• Doctors, nurses and other medical providers who know illness doesn’t wait until after the holidays.

• Retail sales clerks who keep the stores open and their families waiting so we can pick up last minute or Early Black Friday stuff.

• And waitresses – among the lucky folks politicians tout when unemployment is down – single moms waiting tables for half-minimum wage plus tips. Tip them well, my friends. They’re doing work, cheerful or pretending to be, so we don’t have to load and unload the dishwasher.

Meanwhile, my four-year-old great-niece stands by the back door and declares that the sky had to get white so it would snow, and the snow is making the grass go away. I opine that it likely is the weight of the snow pushing the grass into the ground. She’s OK with that.

Happy Thanksgiving to You.

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