As a single person Thanksgiving can be traumatic. I am lucky I have friends that never forget me. I share this article again, because I received a telephone call from a good friend who just celebrated her birthday, she is 97 years old. She reminds me so much of the fabulous Delaney sisters who told their life story in a book titled Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. These remarkable women, aged 102 and 103 had a wonderful life. When I hear my friend say "When I was in Paris...". I think with smile, the Delaney's had nothing on my friend. It is my hope that I will be as clever, lucid and energetic as she is, when and if I get to her age. I am not sure how I managed to gather such a wonderful group of woman as friends but am thankful and tickled, that I have. Thanksgiving reminds me of this. It also reminds me of the time I managed to eat myself sick eating my mother's delicious and butter-rich cornbread dressing non-stop. It brings back memories of past family gatherings and makes me look forward to future. For me Thanksgiving with its warmth and smell of good food in the house, family and good friends gathered together is a "Snoopy happily dancing" moment.
Thanksgiving is uniquely an American holiday, first celebrated in the early 1600's, it was later proclaimed a national holiday in the 1800's. Although not a religious holiday, there is no better time to give thanks for family, friends and abundance. This day has its own special rituals, some are personal or family unique. However some seem to be universal, like watching football and the Macy's parade in New York City. I am not a football fan, but I do enjoy watching the Macy's parade with its huge cartoon character floats.
As a youngster I looked forward to watching the old films, 'March of the Wooden Soldiers' with Laurel and Hardy, and 'Mighty Joe Young.' My favorite part of 'Mighty Joe Young' was (still is) when young Terry Moore grabbed the apes hand and said, "Come on Joe" and walked him away, her head high, from the bad men. I watched King Kong also, but Moore and her ape captured my heart. Old black and white movies have been constants in my life just as celebrating Thanksgiving has been. I look forward to them. The movies give me balance and good memories, they also remind me that another year has passed. The years move quickly don't they? During 'March of the Wooden Solders' I still get a big smile when the tall wooden solder's march out to save the people of the town.
As I grow older, I understand that family does not have to be a blood relative. As a child I was surrounded by neighbors, who I now realize, were my extended family. All of the old men (where they really so old or just that in my young mind?) who sat in front of my dad's barbershop, lined up like birds on a wire, drinking sodas and coffee, and gossiping. There was Mr. Harry who knew me as a youngster and later asked my poor husband the same question time after time "Boy, are you taking good care of my girl?" I remember the woman next door used to give me sample tubes of Avon lipstick when I was about 8 years old. Of course, I was not allowed to wear lipstick but I felt incredibly special to have such precious grownup things. Later when I was in junior high school my mother's good friend bought a poodle skirt for me. I was thrilled, with six children my family could not spend extra money on what was obviously a nonessential item. Those of a certain age will know what a poodle skirt is (or was) and the importance of owning one.
Then there was Julian's mom (I only knew her as that) who allowed me to pay five cents for hard cover mystery novels from her secondhand store. My mother shared fresh cold lemonade and Kool-Aid with her. Many of the authors I discovered then, remain favorites today. On Thanksgiving, I remember this nameless woman and her beautiful little boy, Julian with a smile.
As an adult I had a friend who held open house every Thanksgiving and Christmas for friends who had no plans for these holidays. At one point I was working part time as well as full time and could not make real holiday plans because I worked most holidays. Going to my girlfriend's house provided a wonderful oasis for me. No matter what time you arrived, you were always on time, you were never too late. These are such treasured memories.
For those of us who have family by blood it is a time to put away ill feelings and share a moment of camaraderie. For others it is a time to appreciate your own unique and special extended family. It is my hope that you have chosen your special family well and wisely. Remember to surround yourself with those who make you feel good and with whom you can share love.
If you are at odds about what you will do on Thanksgiving, think about gathering a few friends together and celebrate your friendship.
As always, I wish you peace, love, many blessings and a lovely holiday.