Pass The Pandemic
On this Thanksgiving day, this may be the toughest year ever to ponder what to be thankful for. A year filled with wildfires, riots, protests, political upheaval and this horrible virus, to name a few make it seem like we should only be thankful that 2020 is nearly over.
But still we push on. I know I am. In my own case, it is the good memories of past happiness that keep me forging ahead, wearing a mask, and trying to stay safe.
Of course Thanksgiving provides some of the best memories to draw from. The time of year when everyone is looking toward Christmas and taking a day off to enjoy a meal with those closest to them. Some of my vivid memories are:
1. The years at the Portland House where our family split Thanksgiving and Christmas between my aunt Helen's house and ours. As my cousins started marrying and having kids of their own, things got too big and we split up. For the first few years we missed the big extended family, but as we grew in size and numbers, we replaced the chaos of cousins with kids of our own.
2. For a few years we had the Landwehr/Johnston Thanksgiving at my grandma's Community room at her apartment on Jefferson Avenue in St. Paul. That space provided some elbow room for the mob of kids and teenager/20 somethings that we were in the early 80s. My wife still recalls the Chef that catered the Turkey meal. Evidently he was missing a finger. It is weird what we remember. I remember the Vikings/Cowboys game being on the TV on other years at the same location.
3. Mom downsized to her smaller house on Larpenteur. I think it was these years where we started to split the Thanksgivings and Christmases with my sister Jane and my brother Tom. Both of the gatherings were over-the-top good, with Mom always providing the turkey and dressing. (Her dressing is second to none. Cooked in the bird, moist, with sausage and spices. Mmmmm). Again, my wife remembers Mom's "Turkey box" a bankers box that fit the huge turkey just right so she could transport it to the houses from year to year. She probably still has it.
4. We had a few Thanksmases both in New York and in Waukesha. These were 4 day affairs where we celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday and Christmas on Friday with our New York family. One year when Ben was about 3 or so we went to get a tree with his grandfather, hoping to craft a lasting memory and, of course, Ben fell asleep in the car on the way. Best laid plans. Those Thanksmases were some great years. Lots of fun in one weekend with those that had traveled far (and, sometimes it was us, driving through the night after work on Wednesday.)
5. Most recently we've had much smaller affairs. The past couple down here were spent with our kids, their uncles Mark and Jake, and our good friends Steve and Jill. These gatherings, like those of the past, get loud and rambunctious and are filled with love.
So, as you look toward probably one of the smaller, bleaker thanksgivings in your own recent past, I'd encourage you to take some time to reflect on what your holiday once was. I think it will set the stage for how grateful you should feel to have had those occasions and how good it will feel to have them back when COVID fades into your memory just like those past thanksgivings.
I am grateful for each and every one of you.