Archive for Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving inspires appreciation for life

December 3, 2009

One of the perks of getting together for Thanksgiving meals is the after-dinner session of exchanging memories and stories of times long past.

The down side of all this recollecting comes from realizing just how old one has actually become. Inside, I don’t feel particularly ancient — at least most of the time. When my teenage grandson, however, looks at me and seems to doubt my word that my schools didn’t have computers, and there were no television sets in my childhood home, then I begin to feel pretty shriveled up and lame.

My daughter hosted the Thanksgiving dinner this year, but I and other guests contributed several dishes. That’s the way it should be — a generous mixture of different cooks’ specialties. I’m sure that the first Thanksgiving in 1621 could have had an extreme mixture of dishes, ranging from the possibilities of freshly caught fish, venison, rabbit, wild turkey, ducks, the ubiquitous pumpkin and dried and even ground corn. The English colonists and the hospitable Wampanoag Native Americans, who taught the colonists how to plant and farm much of their food, no doubt had a good time visiting and exchanging memories of their “good old days.”

The memories would quite possibly go in a different direction from our modern day Thanksgiving get-together. Instead of the youngsters hearing about all the things Grandma didn’t have like running water and electricity, the colonists’ children would hear about the many houses, the warm woven clothing, the huge fireplaces, the theaters, and all the luxuries of merry old England in the 17th century.

Small children probably wouldn’t be able to visualize what their parents were describing. I don’t think my grandchildren take seriously my childhood world that I describe to them. As a matter of fact, I could swear that my teenage grandson sighs softly before he resigns himself to hearing about my childhood lack of electricity and telephones. And I smile inwardly to think about what would happen if he were stranded on a distant world lacking all the instant communication and entertainment tools with which we are presently blessed.

As we go into this holiday season, I hope that we can put aside petty jealousies, worries and ambitions and look about us to appreciate the good things we do have. My 3-year-old granddaughter learned a thankful song at her preschool. After she sings it, she says, as she was taught to say, that she is thankful for friends and relatives, but then she adds “and muffins.” It makes me smile because she truly knows the importance of enjoying both the major benefits of life and the little pleasures.

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