Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving this week. It’s a day of football, turkey, gathering around the table and giving thanks for food, health and family. There are plenty of things to be thankful for. I want to share some of the things I’m thankful for on this day where everyone is giving thanks that they’re not a turkey.
What I’m Thankful for
I’m grateful for my children and spending a couple of days with them. They’re grateful for extra days of screens and Roblox and Minecraft. They’ll be even more grateful if I leave them alone to play Roblox and Minecraft.
I’m grateful for food and a chance to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with my family. My kids will be grateful if they can skip dinner and just have pie.
I’m grateful for football and a chance to watch it with my children. Bonus points if we can hit Canton High School to watch Stoughton play. My children will be grateful if there’s something else on TV.
I’m grateful we live so close to Plymouth, America’s hometown. It gives me a chance to take in some history. The Boy will be grateful if we can just go home. The sooner, the better.
I’m grateful for our health and being able to walk and get other types of exercise. My children are grateful for heated cars that drive them where they want to go instead of suffering outdoors.
I’m grateful for school. It teaches my children. My children are grateful for holidays, snow days, and anything else that will get them out of school.
I’m grateful for my wife. My children are grateful if they can get time alone with her, and I can leave them alone.
Yes, there are plenty of things for me and my family to be thankful for. Sometimes we need to remind our children of this, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this. As you sit down to your turkey this week, I hope you’ll take a moment to see what’s around you and give thanks. We should do it more often than we do, but this week they gave us a holiday to set aside time to actually do it.
The Oppressed wanted to go to King Richard’s Faire earlier this season. I’ve heard of it, but I had never been there.
She was very excited to go. Wife even got her a Rennaissance-style dress to wear for the day. I’m not sure what she was most excited about. Going to the fair or having a dress to wear to the fair.
Arriving at the Fair
The big day arrived. It was me and four of the children. Wife and Lovie weren’t able to make it due to an unforeseen circumstance. We got out of the car and saw that The Oppressed was certainly within her element.
She was not the only one to dress up for this day. There were many people who took the opportunity to dress up for this grand day at the fair. Some were dressed up in Rennaissance clothes. Some were dressed in Harry Potter costumes. A lot of people were dressed up in some type of period or specifically themed garb.
I was dressed in regular, 21st century clothing. That’s right. I was dressed in modern clothes. Wife can’t say anything about how I was dressed on this day. (She tends to think my dress is old-fashioned sometimes.)
We joined the throngs who had assembled outside the gates. Lords, Ladies, and commoners alike waited their turn. There was no privilege granted to anyone. Everyone had to wait their turn until the gates opened.
When they did open, we walked into a completely different world. There were games that tested one’s strength and skill. There were stands that sold handmade items. Some vendors sold food. Some sold mugs, journals, or some other type of trinket. Everything was handmade and nothing was cheap. Children got trinkets and souvenirs.
The slogan for King Richar’s Fair should be, “Enter a lord, exit a pauper.”
Rides and Games
There were plenty of rides to go on. All of the rides were powered manually. The people charged with operating the rides certainly earned their money. I had no idea they made rides like that.
In addition to the rides, we also saw games that tested your strength and skill. The Oppressed went for the skill games. Slugger went for the strength games. The Oppressed showed her determination and was rewarded with a royal proclamation that recognized her efforts and achievements. She graciously accepted her award.
Fun and games were briefly paused for food and drink. We got in another line to buy our fare and refreshments and I handed over another small fortune. The slogan for King Richard’s Fair should be, “Enter a lord, exit a pauper.”
We left for home that afternoon. Wife and Lovie were happy to see us after our day at the fair. The children were excited to show off everything they got at the fair. The Oppressed was happy showing Wife what she got and what she wore while getting it.
My grandmother passed away recently. This wasn’t shocking news to anyone. She was 94 years old, and her health had been failing, which is often the case when you reach 94. I’ve said it before, and I’ll tell you now: We are born, we die. Enjoy the in-between.
Wife, Mother, Grandmother
No one lives forever. That’s common knowledge, but with some people, you wonder. My grandmother, “Grammy”, who went on to become known as “Great-Grammy G” when the next generation made its appearance, was the stuff you read about and see in movies. Grammy raised 11 children. My dad was the oldest. I think my aunt, the youngest, was in elementary school when Grammy’s husband, “Bud” passed away.
My house has five, sometimes six kids. I think a basketball team in my house is a hassle. I can just imagine what a football team could have been like. Grammy took care of them all. She took care of them while working full-time. I was grateful for all the aunt and uncles I had, especially when Christmas came along and there were no other children. My brother, sister, and I had a great racket going until said aunts and uncles ruined it by having kids of their own.
A Not-so-Easy Life
It wasn’t easy for her, but she never complained, and she never quit. She woke up every morning and did her thing. She read. She did puzzles. On Sundays she went to church like all good Irish Catholics. Grammy was there for anyone and everyone through thick and thin. I remember her taking care of my uncle after a car accident. Another uncle, her son-in-law, died in the beginning of 2005. I don’t doubt she was there for my aunt offering whatever support was needed. Another aunt, her daughter, died in 2006. My grandmother was with her at the hospital making her as comfortable as she could. After the memorial service, I mentioned being concerned about Grammy after burying her daughter. My dad said, “Grammy’s a tough old bird.” So, she was.
Grammy, for the most part, stayed in Lynn, Mass, where she raised her family, worked, then retired. I was one of the first people who found out about her retirement. At least I think I was. I was riding my bike one evening in the summer of 1993 when I decided on a whim to visit. We were sitting at the kitchen table drinking Lipton Iced Tea, a drink I always associated with her, when she told me she was retiring. That fall, Grammy, her children and grandchildren got together to celebrate her retirement. As usual, it was a raucous, fun-filled event that was packed to the rafters with relatives, friends and other well-wishers. It was always an exciting time when my family got together.
It was exciting with the family or just with her. All of the grandchildren remember the day they became taller than Grammy. That meant lunch at the now-defunct Porthole restaurant. A rite-of-passage that celebrated our literal growing up. Years ago, she took my brother and me to a Christmas party hosted by her boss. I don’t remember if my sister had been born, yet. I forgot her name, but I remember her boss walking around the house with a light-up Santa hat, greeting visitors and talking to guests. The house was small, and the crowd was big. It was hot that night in that house.
Love and Prayers
Speaking of Christmas, I had the honor of narrating the Christmas pageant in kindergarten. Thirty-five years later, Grammy still talked about the day I narrated the Christmas pageant. There was a part where shepherds and wise men weren’t where they were supposed to be. They were probably following the wrong star. I was reminding them where they needed to be, totally oblivious to the hot mike in front of me. My grandmother always made sure to mention that part, too. I told people if I wrote a best seller or won a major award, someone, Barbara Walters, Lester Holt, anyone would find her and interview her. She would tell them about the time her grandson narrated the Christmas pageant and directed people to their right place.
Luckily, we had our chance to say our good-byes. People at one time or another visited, said hello, and said good-bye. We thought we were going to lose her during the height of Coronapalooza. She beat that, too. Like I said: No one lives forever, but sometimes you wonder.
So, that’s it. Grammy has left us. She’s left the mortal coil to see “Bud”, Wayne, and Patty. She’ll say hello to Charlie and Janice and scores of other friends and relatives she hasn’t seen in years or decades. Her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren will come together again and again Grammy will be the central reason for us coming together, just like we did on all those Sunday afternoons to celebrate her birthday. Just like we did on those Christmas evenings. I now leave you with the words written by Norma to everyone and anyone who ever saw her or received a card from her at any time in their life:
There are some disagreements as to exactly what and when things happened, but you, a loyal reader are very, VERY well aware of the truthfulness and accuracy of the stories and events recorded and shared.
This week is an exciting time for my family and I’m sure it is for your family as well. This is the time we all come together to visit loved ones or loved ones come to visit us. This is the time we all come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is an especially memorable time for me and Wife because it is the first time we became parents. There was one particular Thanksgiving that will always have a special place in our hearts. There are some disagreements as to exactly what and when things happened, but you, a loyal reader, are very, VERY well aware of the truthfulness and accuracy of the stories and events recorded and shared. Because of this, you know of the historical accuracy of the tale I am about to impart.
A True Story
It was a quiet Thursday morning for me and Wife. We were planning to go to my brother’s house that day. The DVR was set up to record a football game. Wife and I were seated in the living room sipping our coffees. My coffee had a little something tasty in it. A little Amaretto or Bailey’s for flavor on this leisurely morning where no one needed to go to work and it would be hours before we would need to be at my brother’s.
The time finally came to hit the road. We drove to my brother and his wife’s house. There we saw relatives and loved ones. We chatted and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres. Some rooms had people sitting around talking. One room had the television on where people were getting ready to watch the football game. Wife and I made our rounds and said hello to our hosts and their various guests. Everyone knew Wife was pregnant and, if they didn’t, I think they figured it out when they saw her.
Wife found a seat and rested herself. People made their way to where she was sitting and wished her a Happy Thanksgiving. Everyone wanted to know how she was doing. Would she like anything? Could they get anything for her?
Called to Dinner
People continued to talk. I divided my time and attention between the game and conversation. Then, not long after we began talking, we were called into the dining room. It was a beautiful room, elegantly decorated. The table was beautifully set with various side dishes: stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce, a variety of potato dishes. In one area of the table was a large bare spot. Very large.
Everything was in place. Everyone was in place. We were all ready to eat. But first, we had to give thanks for the bounty we were about to receive. After all, it was Thanksgiving.
After giving thanks, we passed sides to and fro. The turkey was carved. Wife and I passed sides to those next to us and around us. People passed sides to us. I was fortunate enough to get a drumstick, my favorite part of the turkey.
Ready to Eat
My plate was made. I was ready to go. I’ll never forget that drumstick. It was next to the mashed potatoes, which had gravy on it. The gravy was running down the potatoes and ran towards the drumstick. The tip of the drumstick had a little gravy on it. Just a little. Just enough to add a little more flavor.
The drumstick was in my hands and brought it to my mouth. I was about to take a bite of the crispy drumstick with just a little gravy on it. You could smell the delicious aroma of the bird. I was about to take a bite when I felt something on my arm. It was Wife tapping me and saying, “I think we need to go to the hospital.”
Two Become Three
And so we did. We said goodbye to our hosts and our fellow guests and we drove to the hospital, where we later said hello to our first child. This is the true, irrefutable story of how Wife and I first became parents. It happened on Thanksgiving. It was an exciting time, and it all happened just as you read it.
We had a small problem in the backyard recently. The ladder to the swing set broke. It wasn’t too bad. It was just certain rungs and just one side that needed to be fixed.
This is to be expected. We’ve had the set for years and our yard was the yard that everyone congregated at before Coronapalooza hit us. Countless children have played in our yard and made up numerous games in and around the swing set.
The trouble was brought to my attention one day. I stopped what I was doing to survey the damage and figure out what could be done. A brilliant flash then hit me. I looked at The Boy, who has told all who will listen that he will be working 10 jobs when he grows up. To our benefit, one of the jobs he will work will be in construction. I asked The Boy if he wanted to do a construction project. He enthusiastically said, “Yes,” and ran inside to grab his gear: Reflective vest, tool belt, helmet. We went to the basement to get a measuring tape for his belt. I grabbed a claw hammer, some pliers, a staple gun. I wait for times like these when I can do something with my son. Cartoons and baseball is still a no-no, so I take what I can get.
We get to the swing set. The Boy needs to measure the steps that are being repaired. He measures and marks them with a pencil. I haven’t removed the nails or the staples yet, but he needs to measure anyway. I remove the staples and nails. The Boy measures again. I line up the rungs and staple them in. Some need more than one. No problem. It just may take a minute or two longer than expected. Suddenly, The Boy needs to use the bathroom. He just went before he started, but he’s Union. On his way back to the project, he sees his bike. He just wants to ride it for a minute before he comes back to work. He never came back. His vest is on the patio. I pick it up along with his measuring tape and the rest of the tools and put them back on the bench. Our two-minute bonding session comes to an end.