Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, good food and fond memories


The Palo Alto, Seacliff State Beach

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving is a strange holiday to me, I don’t remember celebrating it until I was an adult.  The first Christmas I can remember I was 4 years old, and I remember the odd birthday, Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day or Easter from my childhood, but no Thanksgivings.  The first one I remember was in Germany and I was 23 or 24 years old, traveling around, my version of the Grand Tour; that year I worked in an American Army restaurant in Munich – it served the traditional holiday fare to American soldiers and their families.  I was allowed to take some leftover to the other Army employees that lived in the same building as I.  Being the only American, I was eager to share our traditions.  The others were generally British or from one of the Common Wealth countries and all of us were single and a long way from our families.  I choose pumpkin and apple pies thinking that I was bringing a great treat.   It was a shock to find no one else liked pumpkin pies – pumpikin appears to be uniquely American.  My next Thanksgiving memory comes from the mid-1970s when my sisters were in high school; my youngest sister brought her boyfriend to our family Thanksgiving dinner – my brother and I took great pleasure in teasing him and throwing food to him and at him.

Thanksgiving didn’t acquire a special identity to me until after I was married and establishing my own family traditions.  My wife’s family lived (and still lives) in Santa Cruz.  Each year we went there for the holiday, usually leaving Reno the day before and coming home Sunday afternoon.  They were a family of 7 children and had lots of friends, children, spouses, and ex-spouses that always came (and still do) for dinner.  They came for dinner and stayed (or at least came back) for dinner, snacks, breakfast the next day, lunch another dinner and usually at least one meal every day until late Sunday evening.  Dozens and dozens of people came and went during the weekend, they ate, played games, walked on the beach, made videos of each other, shopped, talked and just enjoyed the warmth of family.

Those Thanksgivings are still the ideal in my mind, although I have not been to one in 15 years.  Now I go to my youngest sister’s house for dinner, there are usually 15 to 20 of us for dinner; but it ends there, dinner.  It is nice, but I miss the long wandering days in Santa Cruz with the break from a Nevada winter.  My run on Thanksgiving Day was one of the highlights of my running every year.  I am on my way for a run now, it may be 30 degrees outside by the time I start, there is snow and ice everywhere and I will be bundled up like Santa, not stripped down like a runner running on the beaches in Santa Cruz.  That is part of the Thanksgiving tradition, isn’t it, thinking about the people that are gone, the things we used to do together and remembering to be thankful for all of it.


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November 2010
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