Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday for me. A couple of stories that show why I found it memorable may explain.
After I went away to college, I did not live in my hometown for many years, but the pull of family and friends made me save part of my vacation time to “go home” for Thanksgiving. One year I got ready to return to Minnesota on Sunday morning and found that my little American Motors car had died. When I told my dad, he picked up the phone and called my brother, who had a friend who was a car dealer.
“Your sister needs a car,” he said briskly.
“But Dad, it’s Sunday morning.”
“I said your sister needs a car,” Daddy repeated.
“Let me talk to her,” Bill said desperately.
“Honey, what kind of car do you want?”
I hesitated a minute and said lamely, “I think a blue one.”
My brother was a trooper and knew how to get things done. (I think it was largely due to his being a Marine. They just don’t understand the words “No way.”)
Monday morning a large truck pulled up in front of my parent’s house and unloaded a new blue and white Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I was in tall cotton. The driver and I leaned on the truck fender and signed the paperwork and I started my return to Minnesota. That was one of the years when Thanksgiving weekend was cold and icy. Emboldened by having a new car, we “skated” north and arrived safely late that evening.
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In 1983 I got a job in Oglesby, Illinois. I went there and found an apartment, but no pets were allowed. I had Pusser, the family cat to care for. This called for diplomacy of the highest level. I had to persuade my parents to adopt the cat. My dad had a very strong dislike of cats and found it hard to believe I lived with one. I moved to Illinois in September. We had peacefully negotiated a deal. The cat was to never come into the house and would be fed and have a bed in the attached garage.
I came home for Thanksgiving and found that the cat was now eating in special dishes in the kitchen as other animals were stealing his food.
I came home for Christmas and the cat was sitting on my Daddy’s lap. They established a warm relationship and Pusser was good company for my dad for many more years.
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Not every Thanksgiving was joyous or funny. In 1993, I flew home from Philadelphia for the holiday and found that my dad was very ill. He waited until I got home to leave this world. I still shed some tears thinking about that. He was an amazing man who overcame many adversities in life and by strength of will lived to be 89 years old. I am still grateful I was with him when he passed away.
I don’t think I missed a single Thanksgiving holiday while my parents were living. It was always such a good feeling to be home again and enjoy the company and sumptuous feasts served each year. How I miss those wonderful days, but am lucky to have had the opportunities given me.
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