Of all the Thanksgiving days I have been fortunate enough to freely observe, the one thing I remain most grateful for is that it always falls on the last Thursday of November. It is quite a benefit not having to remember a date. The consistency of Thanksgiving day is the total opposite of my evolving Thanksgiving day memories.
As far back as I recall, the day meant four consecutive days of no school. Staying up very late, sleeping in and more time outdoors with friends topped the agenda.
The obligatory time with family and giving thanks came in a close second. Being thankful for people you only see once a year around this time was kind of confusing. But, we did it if it meant getting through the meal in record time on order miss the adult conversations and to take advantage of disappearing daylight. That was the norm until it was time to become an adult.
While trying to become an adult, Thanksgiving became a chore. It took a lot of work to pull off what the adults of my childhood and the Pilgrims and Indians of the first Thanksgiving always seemed to make look so effortless.
There was some comfort knowing that others in my age group also struggled with the transition from Thanksgiving consumer to producer.
Parents through handed down recipes or costly, long distance phone calls and older neighbors were the only sources for food preparation. For years, the quest to prepare the perfect holiday meal topped the agenda. That, too, became routine as the culinary skills developed. Because of geographical logistics, family gatherings became a thing of the past. The good holiday memories became what I was most thankful for.
Then, a funny thing happened. Maturity, albeit debatable, kicked in. The four-day weekend became priority again. It was not to be able to hang out with friends until darkness beckoned, but it was the opportunity to unwind, do nothing and just wish the nation much to be thankful for.
Now, after more than 60 Thanksgivings, the holiday remains one of my least favorites. I have had some wonderful, some not so great and some forgettable Thanksgivings. However, the past few have been about reflection. When you don’t have to prepare anything or do anything you don’t want, the ability to still reflect is something to be thankful for.
I remain thankful for the ideals our nation was founded.
The high standard of perfection we set and the principles we strive to meet are what sets us apart from many other sovereign, civilized cultures. It is because I have accepted there is a stark contrast between our ideals and our truths that I am also OK when we fall short of that unattainable perfection.
I stumbled across a comment made by someone during the recent impeachment hearings. The person spoke of his willingness to take a risk because, “This is America. This is a country I have served and defended, and here, right, matters.”
Right matters is one of those American ideals we all should be thankful for. While, at the same time, we must realize that right is not objective. We should always aim for truth and right but realize there are times when untruth and wrong are accepted outcomes.
We can appreciate the notion or ideal that no one is above the law even after witnessing someone with influence literally get away with murder. While “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal … ” we must recognize that rank has its privileges.
America is like our traditional holiday meat, the turkey. Its golden skin looks perfect when viewed through the oven glass. But, you must cut deep into it for the truth to be revealed how perfect or imperfect it is.
And, as American citizens, we must remain vigilant like Superman and continue to fight for the ideal of “truth, justice and the American way.”
I hope your holiday was a memorable one.