Thinking About Thanksgiving

Like many of us, I have many memories of Thanksgiving celebrations, some pleasant, others not. I recall feasting until I could hold no more. And, I can almost taste the turkey and pumpkin pie. I remember our house filled with relatives and vibrant with a festive air. Somewhere along the way, I was made personally aware of the mountain of dirty dishes and pots and pans that accompanied holiday get-together. It gave me some perspective. I came to better realize how much work my mother put into those events.

Of course, there were the usual conflicts and competitions between this and that relative, whose kids were doing best in school, or were getting married, or was prettier. Who had a good year financially, who was drinking too heavily. But, I was young, and it was just fun to see the cousins and enjoy the get-together.

Not all my holidays came with a houseful of people. Not all celebrations reflected a sense of affluence. Some were poignant in their absence of a bountiful year to celebrate. I learned a different basis for thanksgiving in those years. It wasn’t just a huge feast that made the day. A chance for camaraderie and sharing of what was available became important.

When I was in the Navy, the cooks on our ship did a great job of putting out a wonderful meal for the holiday, in port but away from home. One time, I heard the cook express his hurt and frustration when much of the crew chose to eat ashore at a favorite bar instead of eating on board with their “Navy family”. I felt badly for him. He had turned out a great, traditional holiday feast. I learned a holiday like Thanksgiving depends on what participants bring to the table, as well as what food is there to eat.

One of my most memorable Thanksgiving celebrations was with a houseful of people I had not met before. We were in the Los Angeles area, and we were all apart from family that year, so someone sent out invitations to bring people together for a celebration anyway. I loved it. People were interesting and their company enjoyable. Everyone appreciated the opportunity to get together, and did what they could to make the occasion fun and successful. It worked extremely well. These days, many of us find ourselves in some sort of isolation—personally, politically, socially, financially. Maybe that’s why we talk about Turkey Day, rather than Thanksgiving, and Black Friday savings opportunities are more exciting than a gathering for appreciation and togetherness.

I can’t help but think about Bobby Navarro at holiday time, and think I’d like to write a Bobby Navarro novel that includes a holiday setting. I’d like to follow his thoughts and feelings. Would he miss being on the road? Would he feel an increased longing for home? Or, would he just enjoy the day?

What are your most memorable Thanksgiving experiences? Love to hear your thoughts and share your memories.



  1. Kathy Connelly says:

    As odd as this might be, my positive memories of Thanksgiving is the story of why it came to be, the skits in school and making whip cream the old fashion way. My mom started cooking in the morning and didn’t stop until the gravy was on the table. I didn’t like peas, white onions, cranberry, dressing or pumpkin pie. So it was turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, her homemade rolls and mincemeat pie. I loved the smell of the roasting turkey in a roster that I still use. The meals would usually be uneventful but after dinner, everyone would go for a walk and complain about over eating. Once I moved away, this holiday became stressful….too much driving, not enough time, pressure to see everyone and having food I still did not like.
    Over the years, so much has changed. No longer driving, eating, driving. No peas
    or pumpkin pie or expectations on this day. It is stress free and relaxed. I still like the Thanksgiving story. Hope you enjoy yours.

    • I remember making turkey cutouts and coloring them. I still love turkey with mashed potatoes and gravey…and still eat too much. Thanks for sharing.

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