Thanksgiving Letter 2016
Greetings to my readers wherever you may be—here in the USA or across the pond in Europe, Asia, or perhaps even in Africa, Antarctica, and Australia.
Thanksgiving is an American tradition begun 400 years ago in 1621 when the Pilgrims from Europe arrived (by boat) on the shores of the New World and enjoyed a feast alongside Native American Indians to give thanks to God for a good or harvest, or, I should think, for still being alive, unlike so many others who perished shortly after they arrived at Plymouth and Jamestown.
The tradition continues today, though I can't say I have ever eaten with full-blooded Indians. Most people don't. It's not an Indian-Caucasian thing like it was 400 years ago. I may have eaten with individuals who, unknowing to me, “identified” as Wampanoag Indians or would have been accepted by them, but not with legitimate Indians. Most of them left before I got here.
Suppose I wanted to eat with Indians in honor of the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving—where would I find any unless I lived near an Indian Reservation? And do today's Indians celebrate Thanksgiving? Not sure. I've never been on an Indian Reservation and I think the closest ones are a thousand miles away.
We give thanks every year now because so many pitfalls threaten us all the time. We’re lucky we make it around for another year. Some don't.
Nowadays the tradition is to eat Thanksgiving dinner with your own family, unless you hate them. In that case, you would eat with your friends, if you have any. And if you don't, you would eat alone. It still counts.
When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of my older relatives, my parents and grandparents, and my aunts.
But most of my older relatives are no longer here, so I would be eating with invisible ghosts. In that case, it might be a good idea to spend Thanksgiving evening with a spirit medium that would hold a séance to contact their spirits, and by that method, I would find out what they've been up to lately, with the medium acting as the go-between. But my relatives didn't believe in spirit mediums, so I'm sure that wouldn't work.
I will simply rely on my memories. Remembrance of people past must be an activity indulged in regularly, lest you would completely forget those memories which need to be conjured up to the front of the mind every so often.
What are my Thanksgiving memories, one part of me now asks the other.
Mom baking turkey in the oven for hours and hours. Waiting for what seemed like forever for that turkey to get done so we could finally eat. How long was it, I ask Memory. Six hours? Eight? At the very least.
The moment it was pronounced "done" and pulled out of the oven was something akin to the moment you are released from jail. Not that I've ever been in jail, but it must be like that. Or it was like driving in a car to a faraway destination and finally stopping to eat because we were starving to death (figure of speech). The end of a long journey, either geographical or psychological.
The stuffing was the best part. We liked that better than the turkey meat! And then later removing the leftover turkey out of the fridge every 15 minutes to make another sandwich.
When I was a kid I would climb up on top of my grandma’s garage with a bucket to fill with cherries from the tree branches we could only reach from up there.
She made a ton of pies, and then set them out in the kitchen with towels on top of them. Of course, we would lift up the edge of the towel to see what kind of pies were underneath. Cherry pie, I'm sure. But there must have been one or two pumpkin and apple pies as well.
My grandma was the kind of person who kept goose liver in her fridge. And sliced baloney. I ate at least a thousand sliced baloney sandwiches during my childhood. And in her fridge was lard. That's what they used to cook with in those days. And buttermilk. Do they even sell buttermilk anymore?
Now that I'm mostly away from relatives, sometimes I go out to eat on Thanksgiving. Without exception, it has always been a mistake.
Every time I go out for meals on Thanksgiving it turns out wrong and I regret it for a long time. It's as if God is saying, Stay home and cook it yourself. I’m not supposed to eat out on Thanksgiving. Worst meal I ever had in my life was on Thanksgiving at a popular local restaurant. It’s a warning. Stay home and cook your turkey yourself.
What am I thankful for, I ask myself. I’m still here. I’m healthy, mostly. Could be better, could be a lot worse. I’m not homeless. I can afford to buy food. I’ve written and published several books with many more on the way! We’ve lost some family members lately but I’m thankful the rest are still here.
Thanksgiving is a day of prayer as well. What do I pray for? Health. The health of others I know. Anything else isn't so crucial. Success. Money. Power. Some of that would be nice as well. Meeting the right people. As I keep telling myself, I never meet the people I really want to meet. As a writer, I pray I’ll have the time to write all the books I want to write.
My recommendation, if you are American or live somewhere across the world, is to give thanks for what you have, not complain about what you don't have. Think of someone less fortunate than you. It won't be hard.