But my parents always managed to set a nice table for Thanksgiving. My dad and I would sit in the living room and watch football on our old black-and-white television set with tin foil on the ends of the antennas for better reception, and the smell of the turkey and my mom’s stuffing would torture us for hours.
Although I miss them terribly, I’m very thankful for the many years and great holidays we did spend together. Thanksgiving was my father’s favorite holiday and, as I’ve grown older, it’s become my favorite holiday as well.
It’s good to take stock of your life and acknowledge the things you do have to be thankful for. Your family, your friends, your good health, these are all things we tend to take for granted. Sometimes you don’t truly appreciate these things until you don’t have them anymore.
Fifteen years ago, we celebrated a special Thanksgiving. It started out quite normal except for the fact that my mom and I were having our own stuffing competition. Everyone has their own stuffing recipe and they’re convinced that theirs is the best, and mom and I were both proud of our stuffing.
So she cooked her turkey downstairs while mine simmered upstairs. We loved Thanksgiving leftovers in our household, and we were looking forward to days of delicious turkey sandwiches.
This year was special because we had a friend with two young children visiting, so now we were going to have a whopping seven people around the dinner table, a genuine crowd. Then my dad invited his cousin over as her plans had fallen through, and so we were eight.
And when our friend with the two kids mentioned that her sister and her husband were going to a restaurant nearby instead of cooking, we told her to invite them over as well. So now we were up to ten people and space became an issue.
Luckily, we still had our old dining room table in the basement. I dragged that upstairs and polished it up while running upstairs once or twice to baste the turkey.
And then the doorbell rang. A friend of mine was in Woodhaven to visit family and just wanted to say hello. He was with his wife and two children, and next thing you know they were staying for dinner. And so now there were fourteen of us.
We had a small work table which we dragged out and threw a tablecloth over and that was where the kids sat, except my mom joined them so she could go back and forth to the kitchen easily (or so she claimed).
I ran upstairs and brought down the backup bird and we had ourselves, in the words of Arlo Guthrie, a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat.
Afterward we had coffee and cake (thankfully our friend’s sister brought two), and we had people spread out all over the house and kids on the floor playing. It was a far cry from the days on Jamaica Avenue when it was just the three of us. My dad said it was the best Thanksgiving he ever had.
And, as it turned out, it was to be his last Thanksgiving. By February he would be in the hospital, and he passed away on the first of July.
You just never know what life has in store for you. The good times of today can turn into the heartbreak of tomorrow in a hurry. I am certain many of you out there have experienced similar turns of fate and, knowing this, we must always be thankful for the good times while we can.
Wishing all our friends and readers out there a very Happy Thanksgiving, may your table be full of good food, great friends and loving family.