Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. That’s right, not Christmas, Thanksgiving! Certain radio stations and most retailers seem hell-bent on blowing past turkeys to turtle doves, but I refuse to participate until the big guy anchors Macy’s procession! For me, gratitude needs doling before presents.
I have lots for which I am thankful: God, family, health, friends, freedom, grace, blessings and, yes, food and football. (Even though my teams are having losing seasons. But Romo is back. Maybe Christmas has already, after all. But I digress.)
My love of Thanksgiving was passed to me by Ola Manley, my maternal grandmother. As many have said through the years since her passing (May 25, 1983), “Mamaw MADE Thanksgiving!” And there’s no doubting she personified the “happy” of holidays. But I’ve come to understand that for her EVERY day was Thanksgiving; she was about “thanks living.”
Mamaw sprang from bed with gusto. She thanked everyone in her path with a smile, contagious giggle and genuine interest. Never before or since have I known such a servant of people. She strove to show each friend, stranger, loved one and even those who were not so lovable that they were special.
Oh, she served traditional turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans and candied yams (not to mention her “Sock-It-To-Me” cake and lemon icebox pie), but that was only a portion. Hers was a feast of life itself. I have often pondered the possibility that she was an angel. She made me feel like George Bailey felt at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” – HAPPY to be alive! (Curiously, George’s angel was “Clarence.” That was my maternal grandfather’s name.)
Another angel who lovingly touched our Thanksgivings was Aunt Shirley. She added baked beans to the menu, which my wife deems odd, but Shirley’s cackling laughter still echoes in our holiday memories . . . as does her cheering for The Boys!
This was the era of Staubach, Dorsett, Pearson, et al. Shirley would perch on the edge of her chair, screaming, “GO, GO, GO” until her voice began to do so! Wins were common back then! I miss Shirley on ALL game days, not just Thanksgiving Day.
There are other ghosts of Thanksgiving past who lurk in my memories, far too many to share in this post. Perhaps you can relate. Doesn’t every family have a finger-licking cook, belching old-timer, off-color jokester, habitual latecomer and the like? Surely it’s not just the Addams and Riddle clans!
When you see them next week, remember to thank them, perhaps even pay back the embarrassment they’ve caused. One idea is to obnoxiously belt out Bob Hope’s “THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!” After all, you may as well get those vocal cords in shape, for we’re deep into the one hundred and twelve days of Christmas!
© 2015 Russ Riddle. All rights reserved.