Random Thanksgivng Memory Scraps

Everyone is busy today, going about their Black Friday shopping frenzy, so I’ll cut to the chase. No deals in this post, unless you consider the great deal of Thanksgiving memory scraps I am sharing for free below:

#12 Roger Staubach.

#12 Roger Staubach.

Parades and Football – I grew up a Cowboys fan, so I knew Thanksgiving meant getting to watch my team. As a kid, I would put on my Staubach jersey and reenact the game on the floor in front of the TV.  As for the parades, I tolerated them and preferred the CBS coverage because they played it straight. Bullwinkle and Snoopy and marching bands and Santa. Great. Perfect. Now on to turkey and football. NBC, on the other hand, always had a theatrical spin to lengthen the parade process. Everything is going well – the bands are playing and the floats are floating and then, inexplicably, the parade stops and a poorly lip synced Broadway show tune performed by the cast of BJ and The Bear or CHiPs breaks out. What? Back to the safety of CBS.

1987 – It was the Monday before Thanksgiving and I got called to the principal’s office and was informed my dad got sick at work and was on his way to a hospital in Nashville.  Even though he was begin transported by ambulance to another state, I truly never had the sense that it was serious. Everyone was reassuring me and even my dad seemed to think things would be OK – so I let my defenses down and relaxed. Thanksgiving went on that year as planned and we talked. Later, I made my way over to visit, but don’t remember staying very long. Things seemed like they were going according plan. He had lots of visitors and cards. He was at peace and recouping well. Discharge plans were made. He looked healthy.

That was the last time I saw him – almost 26 years ago.

The Drive – The drive home from college between Lexington and Hopkinsville was long, boring, crossed time zones and had toll booths. All that didn’t matter on the Wednesday drive home for Thanksgiving. I passed the time with mixed tapes, coffee and anticipation of seeing old familiar faces. Cramped housing and fast food gave way to the familiarity and warmth of home. Those weekends were filled with family, friends, parties, stories, food, and laundry. I always returned to school with more than what I came home with.

Basketball –  After having gorged on turkey and stuffing, a group of us would cap the day with a couple hours of basketball in a grade school gym. “Grade school gym” meant two things: a short, full-court and 9ft goals for dunking. The short court gave the illusion that we were athletes (we weren’t) and the 9 ft goals gave the appearance of great leaping ability (we couldn’t). Running the full court gave way to a labored jog, which decreased to a moderate walk, which devolved to not venturing past half court, which bottomed out by not bothering to raise my arms to catch passes that would just bounce off my chest. Pathetic, tired, cramped and sweaty. Oh the good ol’ days!

Smoked Turkey – My aunt makes a truly awesome smoked turkey. You can’t help but circle around it once it comes off the smoker and pick at it when nobody is watching. After my uncle died, the carving duties went to my cousin Matt. He would stand over the bird in a white oxford, cutting the tender meat, and sneaking quick bites in between disproving glances from his mom.  Who could blame him? I’d have done the same thing.

The Kids Table – Other than being required to be present for the blessing (or returning thanks as my granddad called it), I always got the feeling that kids were not to be seen or heard the rest of the night. We were exiled to a nether-region of the house, but the joke was on the adults, because we loved it that way. The real action was at the kids table. We tried to make each other laugh, talked, and swapped food. One year I year I sat with three cousins and we played cards for most of the night.  As the game went on, we came up with nicknames for each other. Just about every Thanksgiving since – try as we might – we can only recall three of the four names (Sticky, Cousin and Queen Nicole of Dorkshire). We also had signs that went with each name, but can only remember two of those: Queen was a butterfly and Cousin was a Chevy Camero on blocks (I always pictured it in someone’s front yard under a tree). Or was that Sticky? Anyway, the memories have faded a bit, but we laughed all night.

Slow Burn – I am from a tobacco state, so smoking was common (for instance, my high school had a smoking area). When my friends and I reached the age of 16 and got drivers licensees, we had new found freedom. Part of that freedom was to make poor choices like smoking, which I did on occasion. My friends mostly smoked Marlboro Lights (although one smoked Reds and one smoked Menthol – gross), so I decided to go a different route Thanksgiving of my 16th year. Camel.

Being a novice, I didn’t understand the spectrum of Camel offerings and when the kindly attendant at the Dodge Store asked me which type I wanted,  I just pointed and said “Camels”. It was no skin off his nose, so he gave me a pack of filterless….as in no filter. A friend watched as I soon realized my mistake but stubbornly stood by my decision to smoke these things.  Questions popped into my head like:

  • Am I even lighting the right end of these things?
  • Should I have embers in my lungs?
  • Am I turning green?
  • Am I being laughed with or laughed at?

Although I would flirt with smokes off and on for a number of years (have not had one in almost 10 years), it would be a cold, cold, cold, cold day in H-E-double hockey sticks before I ever touch a filterless cigarette again.

Soundtrack – My mind’s soundtrack for Thanksgiving varies widely, but nearly always includes Linus and Lucy, Bad (U2),  Homeward Bound (Simon and Garfunkel) and Take Me Home Country Road (John Denver).



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1 Comment

  1. Craig

     /  February 20, 2014

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. I really appreciate it. I’m inspired to write my own.


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