Saturday, November 20, 2021



I may have told this family story, but it bears repeating.

When I was about 9 years old and deep into holiday traditions and clinging to the magic of believing in Santa Claus even though the evidence disproved it, I looked forward to the traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. As far as I was concerned, you could have whatever you wanted for Christmas like that delicious Christmas ham roasted all day in the over with pineapple held in place with whole cloves, and a juicy cherry in the middle of each pineapple circle or even a Christmas goose, I didn’t care. But Thanksgiving dinner was a whole other matter; it was a turkey and stuffing or it just wasn’t Thanksgiving. Just throw down your napkin and call it over and done if there was no turkey.

Well, Pop, who had a love for roast beef which we had every Sunday, decided this particular Thanksgiving that roast beef would be on our table instead of turkey. No stuffing, no cranberry sauce (we always forgot it anyway, but that’s not the point), no candied yams, just the same ol’ Sunday dinner of a Yankee pot roast of beef, potatoes, and carrots. Phooey! What a terrible idea. Thanksgiving was ruined as far as I was concerned. I didn’t care if the Pilgrims would have loved roast beef as Pop tried to convince me, I was ready to leave home.

I hung my head in shame at school when the kids talked about their Thanksgiving turkey and all those delicious fixin’s. They would be appalled if they knew my family was having a Thanksgiving roast beef. See? The words don’t even flow together the way Thanksgiving turkey does.

I was furious and sad at the same time. Even going to the Thanksgiving parade uptown could not cheer me up. I sat in misery through the entire Thanksgiving dinner and made sure my disappointment was known. I’m pretty sure I made everybody’s holiday dismal.

We never had roast beef at Thanksgiving again. The thing is, all these years later with some wisdom and life experiences we come to have with age, I think about that turkeyless Thanksgiving. There are many people in this world that didn’t have turkey, not even a chicken on their table to celebrate Thanksgiving. The whole idea of Thanksgiving is to give thanks and gratitude for whatever we have. As so many kids, I was self-involved and lacked insight into the feelings and situations in other people’s lives. There were probably kids in my school who weren’t having turkey because they couldn’t afford a turkey. All I cared about then was what I thought I would be missing without a grain of gratitude or thankfulness. I know better now. Lesson learned.  


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