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That’s Life will be written this week by Jinny’s daughter, Adele.
It took me more than half of what is probably my natural life to learn to like Thanksgiving. To many, Thanksgiving is a time of great joy, good eating, and family reunion. That is as it should be. For me, Thanksgiving has traditionally been a time of unmitigated disaster.
It all started when I was a kid. My mother would make an excellent meal and we would polish the silver and crystal and make everything beautiful for the big day. My family was extremely nuclear, we had no real extended family with whom to spend the holidays, but Thanksgiving was still an occasion and we all watched the parade together and dressed up for dinner. All this was fine; perfect Thanksgiving stuff. What was not fine was that invariably, before the day was out, something hideous would happen to me.
The hideous thing that happened would vary. One year, I caught the skirt of my beautiful new dress on the corner of the table and ripped it. Another year, I was pouring water from a pitcher into the crystal water goblets when the bottom of the glass pitcher suddenly detached and fell crashing into one of my mother’s beautiful china plates, smashing it into pieces, destroying the tablecloth, and drenching me in my nice dress.
It was horrible. I cried buckets. My mother was sweet about it. After all, who expects the bottom to fall off a glass pitcher? Nevertheless, it was recorded in my mind as yet another Thanksgiving disaster.
The proceeding years pretty much followed suit. Large or small, a disaster was fated to befall me on Thanksgiving Day. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was pretty ugly every Thursday at the end of November. Despite my obvious destiny for disaster, I gave me children great Thanksgiving Days. I tried to, anyway. But Thanksgiving had become a Day of Dread and I always awoke in the morning wondering what horror would occur before the day was out.
When my two oldest children were grown, I finally decided to let them in on my aversion to Thanksgiving. The shroud of the Dark Side that surrounded the day was compounded by the fact that I viewed it as a whole lot of work doing something I don’t particularly enjoy, cooking; for a meal that lasted a very short time and was followed by a boatload of cleaning up and wishing I had not eaten so much. My kids were sympathetic. We decided to go out for a few Thanksgivings. It was nice. Someone else got to do all the work, but if I were to be honest, I knew that it was lacking something.
This year, I opted for something entirely different. My family is sort of geographically fractured so the traditional Thanksgiving gathering thing was sort of out of reach. I work at a school which is designed to help educate and train young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Most of them live on campus and go home for Thanksgiving. Some of them have nowhere to go. Some of them do not care to return to unpleasant or painful situations with family. So they remain on campus for the holidays. Frankly, this never ceases to make me sad.
This year, I consulted my daughter and we agreed to bring three of my students home for Thanksgiving. Some people might think this is odd. We thought it was the right Thanksgiving-like thing to do. So we did it. In the end, it was the most wonderful Thanksgiving we ever had. It was a day of joy, sharing, laughter, and happiness for all. One of my students had never had a real Thanksgiving in 19 years. For him, it was a revelation. We even took the opportunity to put up the Christmas tree. It was wonderful. It was what the holidays are supposed to be. It was the most marvelous Thanksgiving of my entire life because it was about being truly thankful and truly feeling the spirit of giving and love. It was about good things. They even praised my cooking. That made my daughter snicker somewhat. But the best part is, not one dreadful thing happened all day. I think my Thanksgiving curse has been broken.
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