Tails From a Thanksgiving Expert

I’m an expert on thanksgiving. Just ask Mom. I’m thankful for just about everything and everyone. That dropped bit of bacon. Unattended hot dogs. Belly rubs! Sea gulls! Snoozes in the sun. Walks in the woods! My favorite blanket, right next to the heating vent.

Mom says words related to “thankful” include gratitude. Appreciation. Gladness. Being at peace. Contentment. Cheer.

See? Told you I’m an expert.

A few things that make my tail wag like a pinwheel:

The guy who walks by my yard every day. Mark has yellow hair and dark glasses. His voice is light and friendly. “I’ve never had much use for dogs,” he once said, reaching over the fence to pet me. “I was a confirmed a cat lover. Until I met Kimber.” He’s my best friend!

The lady across the street who delivers the newspapers. “Hello Kimber!” she says when she walks by. She has short dark hair. She smells like sunshine and good cheer. June also knows just where to scratch me behind my ears. She’s my best friend!

The lady in a wheelchair who smells like generosity and good memories. I always say “hello” when she rolls by. I smile. She smiles back. Mary’s my best friend!

I keep a sharp eye out for my next door neighbor. Sometimes I see Virginia out for a walk when Mom and I are out for our walk! I remind her how happy I am to see her! She smiles. It’s a sparkly kind of smile. I like that. She’s my best friend!

A big black dog lives across the street. She’s older. Doesn’t move so fast anymore. I say hello to her across the street. Lexy doesn’t usually answer. She’s not as talkative as me. But when we cross the street, we exchange greetings and neighborhood news. She’s my best friend! Sometimes Lexy’s grandpa comes to visit. He always saves me at treat. He’s my best… oh, never mind.

I’m also thankful for a job. Mine is patrolling the property and keeping everyone safe. I smell everyone who comes by, making sure they smell friendly. Every once in a while someone doesn’t smell right. I alert my family immediately! I’m the scout. The look out. Just ask the neighborhood cats and the deer who wander out of the woods.

On the job!

In fact, I often lie awake at night, making sure nothing happens to anyone in my house. It’s a big responsibility. But I’m up for it. After I make sure no one has died in their sleep, the next morning I take a snooze in that nice sunny patch in the yard.

Sometimes I talk to people when Mom and I are out on walks. My favorite people are the ones who are small and can’t really talk yet. They understand me just fine. And I understand them. We both know words like Mom and Dad and brothers. Sit. Snack. Lunch time. Car ride!

I used to tell these little people about myself. They knew what I was saying. They would tell me things back. Like, “Macaroni and cheese again?” Or “I am not ready for my nap! Am not! Am not! Am not!”

But I’ve noticed something. These little ones don’t stay little. They grow. Get bigger. Taller. Like my brothers. The more they grow, the less they understand what I’m saying. And the less I understand them. Especially when they start saying things like, “Internal Revenue Service.” “Presidential debate.” Or, “what’s the Wi Fi code?”

Meanwhile, Mom says, “Thanksgiving Day is almost here!” I’m not quite sure what that means. But if Mom’s merrily skipping about the house, cooking up a storm, it must be something good. So I’m up for it.

Thanksgiving 2017

On Thanksgiving Day, I’ll do what I do every day. Be thankful. Glad. Content. On. The. Job. I’ll make sure everyone who comes to my house smells right. Then all my best friends, new and old, will sit around the table and pass wonderful-smelling food around. I may have to sit on the porch. It’s so hard to stay calm with all the excitement and delicious smells!

But I have a plan. I’ll help clear the plates. You know, lick them clean. No one will notice. They’ll be too busy talking and laughing. Waiting for dessert. If I play my biscuits right, someone might save me a bit of their dinner. Or drop something under the table. Oh, happy day!

After dinner, I’ll snuggle into the recliner with Mom. We always watch George Bailey, Sam Wainwright, Mr. Martini, Bert the Cop, Ernie the cab driver, Old Man Gower and Clarence Oddbody, A.S. II every Thanksgiving night.

Family. Faith. Redemption. Best friends. Good food. A nice, warm bed. Long walks. Sunshine. A yard I don’t have to share with a cat. Told you I’m a thankfulness expert.

How ‘bout you?

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So, how was your Thanksgiving?  A little too much mashed potatoes and gravy?  Are you wearing that third piece of pumpkin pie?  Not to fret.  Here’s a seasonal treat that’s not only “fat free,” it’s $-free, too!

Download your FREE copy of my micro-memoir, Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir.

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The Fourth Thursday: A Thanksgiving Story

Prancing and cavorting like a new colt in an open pasture, the fourth Thursday in November is like no other. The holiday trots out laughter, music, sparkling cider, mouth-watering aromas, memories of Mom’s good china and silver service, and “Don’t you dare come to the dinner table dressed like that!”

Thanksgiving in my hometown of San Diego was a day for Dad’s fabulous roast turkey, succulent and perfect, the fancy white linen tablecloth, and Mom’s lime-pineapple Jell-o mold with walnuts. Mom worked so hard on that Jell-o concoction, no one had the heart to tell her we only ate it to be polite.  I don’t think any of us kids actually liked it. (It was the walnuts.)

The oldest daughter of four children, it was my job to set the oak table in the dining room – the one reserved for special occasions – and to dig out the His and Her pilgrim candles from the bottom drawer of the china hutch.  Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim presided unlit as our wax Thanksgiving centerpieces for years.  (I don’t know what became of them, but suspect they now preside over a big Thanksgiving table in the sky.)

Following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and endless quarters of football, the Naas family gathered in the dining room to recount our blessings.  We held hands around a table groaning with goodness and bowed our heads as Dad said something like: “Lord, we thank you for your bountiful blessings and the many gifts you’ve bestowed upon this house.  Thank you for your love, and for each other.  Amen.”

Dad’s blue eyes crinkled as he lifted his head, grabbed the carving knife and grinned. “Send your plates down everybody!  Mom, you’ve outdone yourself again!”

The six of us didn’t even dent the Thanksgiving spread Peggy Naas laid out every year, a feast that could feed Rome’s legions.  Dad was in charge of the turkey and stuffing, but Mom took care of the rest.

“Who wants to go out for a jog?” she’d say after our mid-day meal.  Mom ran marathons competitively and usually finished in the top three for her age group.  My kid sister Laura and I would join her, lumbering around the block in our shirt sleeves.  You can do that in November in San Diego, the “land of endless summer.”  We laced into our running shoes while Dad and brothers Jeff and Kurt were glued to a TV screen watching a bunch of college athletes toss a pigskin around a cow pasture.

“How ‘bout dessert?” Jeff inquired upon our return.  Six feet tall and 135 pounds soaking wet, Jeff could afford to inquire.

“Pumpkin or mincemeat?”  Mom replied, russet hair tumbling around her dark eyes as she strode into the kitchen, a culinary monarch surveying her regal realm. Laura and I grabbed dessert plates and unearthed pies from their refrigerated repose for Mom to slice and serve.

We polished off dessert more than once. Jeff and bean-pole thin kid brother Kurt returned for more as we gathered into the living room for our annual review of a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  In later years, Walton Thanksgiving specials became a family staple.

It’s hard to believe that so many Thanksgivings have come and gone since these holiday classics originally aired.  I look back and wonder, “Where did the time go?”  I don’t remember the years moving so fast in my younger days.  They seem to pile up after five decades, rushing by with avalanche-like alacrity.  Just like the holidays.

At last count, the Walton Thanksgiving movies totaled three. Interesting, isn’t it, that not Christmas, Easter, or even Mother’s Day but Thanksgiving inspired three separate movie specials?  In one Walton movie Cora Beth Godsey observes, “On Thanksgiving, of all holidays, one should be at home.”

I didn’t agree with the starchy shopkeeper’s wife on much, but without family or friends, Thanksgiving is … well, it’s like Abbott without Costello.  Lucy without Ricky.  Turkey without…  Well.  You get the idea.

As autumn glides into winter this year, November seems both full and empty as I find myself at an age where memories stir like Mom’s brown gravy on the Kenmore back burner.  Thanksgiving evokes faces and voices from the mists of memory like no other day.

This year’s fourth Thursday will be filled with whispers of grace: kids, counted blessings, feasting, football, friends.  Hands clasped around a table groaning with goodness.  Hearty “Amens!” Maybe a Waltons re-run or two.  But my grandparents, favorite uncles and aunts are all passed on, as are Mom and Dad. My siblings are flung to the four compass corners of the map.  I miss them all and feel their absences most acutely between November and December.  While we aren’t able to gather around a turkey-and-trimmings table as often we’d like, we hold each other close in our hearts.

And so, more than a thousand miles removed from my southern California roots, Thanksgiving reminiscences remain warm.  The holiday is sweeter than Mom’s lime-pineapple Jell-o without the walnuts because I, like Cora Beth Godsey, have learned that wherever my loved ones are on the fourth Thursday in November, I’m Home.

***

A non-fiction story, The Fourth Thursday won first place in last year’s Short Story Contest by Christian Creative Writers. It was also featured in the The Wordsmith Journal magazine.

Don’t go away. There’s more. Download the ‘expanded version,’ Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir for free here.

Visit Kristine on Facebook at: Kristine Lowder, Writer
Twitter: RoadDiverged

 

Photo credit: public domain

A Proclamation and a Torch…

Don’t you love autumn?   Trees change clothes.  Sweater weather chases away shorts and sandals.  The season slows long enough to give us a chance to savor and appreciate what matters – family, faith, friends.  A time for thanks.  That’s one reason I’m once again offering my loyal readers a Thanksgiving gift, a free download of  Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir.  It’s my way of saying thanks to you. (If you enjoy the short story,  a comment or a review would be appreciated. Thanks!)

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‘Thankful Threes’

Good Monday and Happy Veterans Day!

Fountain

“Okay,” you say, “‘Good’ and ‘Monday’ should never appear together in the same sentence.” Point taken. But hang on a minute. It gets better. Promise.

Writing about “good” on a gray, gloomy Monday isn’t an “oops.”  It may seem like an “Oops.” But it’s not. No. Really. It’s intentional. Let me explain.

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To Thank You…

How did it get to be November already?  Weren’t we ringing in the New Year just last week?

The older I get, the faster time flies.  That’s one reason I decided to write  Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir

We set aside a time for thanks and reflection in just a few days.  In between the feasting, football and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, may I make a suggestion?  Sit down with your family.  Hold hands.  Count your blessings.  Hug your kids.  Thank the One who’s the Source of every good and perfect gift.

The fourth Thursday in November is a time for thanks.  To thank you, my loyal reader, I’m offering a FREE download of my latest ebook, Isabella’s Torch: A Thanksgiving Memoir.   It’s brief and centers around family, hearth and home.  You can read it during halftime.

Oh, and do me a favor?  If you enjoy Isabella’s Torch, how ’bout taking a minute or two to post a review at Smashwords?  I’d be thankful!

Just click for a free download.  Happy Thanksgiving and God bless!