Giving thanks

As I write this, I am dreaming of turkey and preparing to enjoy sleeping off visions of Thanksgivings Past flowing through my gobbler-doped cranium.

In my youth, Mom would have spent the week baking. The knotty-pine walls of the dining room echoing timed-released aromas of turkey and pies and fresh bread.

The gobbler was huge, stuffed on both ends with a bread-based recipe to which, as a lad, I paid little attention. It was surrounded on the table by a variety of vegetables, the most important of which, to my palate, was cranberry sauce. Turkey was primarily a cranberry sauce transport mechanism.

Except for the neck and giblets. Those were mine. It had been cooked in the broiling pan, soaked in the juices beneath the bird. Long, succulent strands of meat, peeled off like string cheese, only much tastier. Then disassemble the bones from one another and suck, quietly because Mom wouldn’t stand for my impolitely noisy slurping of the remaining morsels.

The only other plate to hold my dedicated attention held a dozen or so fresh-from-the-oven, hand-squooshed biscuits, shaped into the pan and baked next to a couple of loaves of bread that would later make leftover turkey easier to hold. There is nothing prepared by man or woman to compete with fresh from the oven biscuits and butter. Not margarine. Butter.

Mother said a cook’s greatest compliment was for those at her table to call for seconds. Don’t just say it was good, then eat only a half-helping. I did my best to compliment her culinary prowess. Especially when it came to her biscuits.

So I’m thankful for having enjoyed those biscuits.

I am thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to visit other cultures, discover that all of us bleed red when we’re cut, and wish at the end of a day for a relaxing beverage and someone warm with whom to share it. I wish more of us could experience our fellow inhabitants of this whirling globule instead of erecting real and artificial barriers to Peace on Earth.

This is a wonderful nation. There are things about us we should correct, parts of our history that can be instructively remembered, but there are millions of people who would happily live here rather than struggle for mere survival where they now call home. Every year, many of them sneak across our borders or fly in openly — all for a chance to provide their children with freedoms and opportunities we take for granted.

I am thankful for the opportunity to sit at a table, surrounded by family, in part because so many of my brothers and sisters have volunteered to miss a share of Thanksgivings and Christmases, birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions. I have learned that the hardest part of that job is assigned to the parents, spouses and others who love and are loved by those from whom they are separated.

I am thankful for the talents I have for writing and the ability to do it publicly, even though some readers may disagree with some of my mental wanderings. Journalists in other places often are jailed – or worse – for even dreaming of such privilege.

I mark these things, especially on this holiday, to remind myself not to feel too sorry for myself when things don’t go as I’d like.

The past few days, She Who Must Be Loved has been preparing for the first gathering of the clan in a couple of years. We’ve all had our shots. We hope that is sufficient safeguard.

I hope you all have your own list to ponder.

I hope you enjoyed our wander at the Edge of the Wood. Please take a minute to pass it along to your friends.

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