Little Randy had filled himself to the brim with turkey and stuffing and family good cheer. After reaching his limit of pats on the head from maiden aunts and exclamations of, “My how big you’re getting!” from other well-meaning relations, he put on his coat and escaped to the rolling hills out behind the house. He had not been to Grandma’s in a long time and had forgotten how much fun it was to roam the fields and make up adventures that grownups would never understand.
He had, also, forgotten about the ominous dark building at the very top of the tallest hill, which he imagined to be the ship of a sea faring explorer tossing upon the waves. Sometimes the clang of a bell would echo across the glen that separated the imaginary ship from the imaginary shore upon which he stood. Cupping his hands around his eyes as if peering through binoculars, Randy focused on the double arched doors at the front of the structure and tried to get a clearer view. Maybe he could catch a glimpse of the captain or see if the crew was permitted Thanksgiving rations as they tirelessly manned the sails.
All of a sudden, one of the doors swung open and out marched a group of unusual looking people dressed in black bonnets, starched white collars and long dark robes. Randy was taken by surprise. He never really expected to see anyone — it was just pretend. But the whole procession was now headed precisely in his direction! He turned quickly and stumbled down the hill. “Mama, Mama, the Pilgrims are coming, the Pilgrims are coming!” He shouted as he ran.
He burst into the house. “What’s the matter?” his mother asked with a concerned voice and a curious look. “The Pilgrims are coming, Mama!” repeated little Randy. She put her arm over his shoulder and hurried to the window. They parted the curtains just in time to see a group of Nuns from the Abbey on the hill passing by on their after dinner constitutional.
Randy is Vigi’s kid brother and ‘The Pilgrim Story’ is one of her favorite Thanksgiving memories from childhood. He was only three or four at the time and today sports more than a bit of gray around the gills, like so many of us — but it is the family times that offer the most vivid memories of this festive holiday.
There are those who write about atrocities committed against the Indians (It would be 300 years or so before they became Native-Americans). Still others use the occasion to make some obscure political point. Me? I wasn’t around back then to harm anyone. The only atrocity I ever committed on Thanksgiving involves turkey, stuffing, two kinds of potatoes, cranberry sauce and a few notches let out in my belt to make room for Vigi’s fresh baked lemon meringue, pumpkin AND apple pies. It’s a celebration of life and plenty — a purely American holiday made for gatherings with family and friends. It’s also a time for reflection and for gratitude.
I live in a terrific home sharing a wonderful life with an incredible lady. While we’ve had some rough patches, and each of us has slipped at times down a health-threatening slope, we’re here to talk about it. I’ve known the joy of children, the sweet smell of success and bounced back from the bitter taste of failure. I have good friends. I may not be wealthy but I am rich. I have no regrets.
On Thanksgiving I choose to celebrate and give thanks for these things and for more than any man has a right to. If anyone wants to complain about historical matters that have been rewritten a thousand times, and probably never once accurately, the best I can do is point him toward the window and tell him to keep watch for the Pilgrims — but first, please pass the gravy.
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