Every individual and every family that find themselves in the cultural areas where a Thanksgiving is observed, observes that occasion in an individual way. Our family is no exception, in that we adhere to certain celebratory patterns and yet we have made other patterns our own.
We try to start the meal with a short meditation of thankfulness. The menu is pretty much standard: turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, veggies as are wanted, and probably pumpkin pie and goodness knows what else. It’s the ‘what else’ where we make our own design. For instance, everyone except me and my mate wants turkey, we would prefer chicken. We usually have turkey ‘for the children.’ On the other hand, we always, always have cornbread dressing and it is always baked separately, never, ever stuffed. Sweet potato casserole has become an adoptee for the last few years, but we never put marshmallows on top, which is a southern tradition that we just don’t much care for; today we sprinkled pecan pieces on top and they toasted as the dish baked and it was awesome. And of course not everyone in the family likes pumpkin pie so there was chocolate pudding for the pumpkin pie resistors. Pretty simple meal, really.
Today after dinner we all went for a short walk because the weather was cool but lovely after several days of cold, cloudy wind. After that we could have played dominoes or cards, but for the last several years our daughter has requested that after the meal we watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a movie we have all watched so many times we are able to both anticipate and repeat much of the dialog. And while this is a really funny film, with imaginatively comic events and some fine acting by Steve Martin and John Candy, it seems that every year we see something more in the story, something more in the characters, something transformative. Both characters make their own mud, so to speak, getting in their own way and blaming each other. Yet Del Griffith, the John Candy character, who is so oblivious of his obnoxious behavior because he feels he maintains a cheery friendliness, is called to account by Steve Martin’s Neal Page, and Neal, who is just as intense and uptight as one would expect someone in advertising to be, learns, through a very difficult series of experiences, to be more tolerant and see beyond the surface. And at the end, we as audience are left with our annual reminder of the value of friendship and family and a day to give thanks.
And we none of us went shopping. We had enough and we were thankful.