First, let me categorically state that everyone has something to be thankful for, even if it’s only still being around to air their latest gripe and have somebody handy to do eye rolls! If my friend Bob could have seen me steering my way through our Thanksgiving feast he would have said, “Look at him, sittin’ there fat and happy!” and he would have been right. If one can strut while occupying a chair, clutching an overburdened fork in one hand and a gravy-soaked dinner roll in the other, then I was strutting.
The reason my chest was puffed up bigger than the turkey’s wasn’t so much the incredible meal, meticulously prepared by my incredible bride of some thirty-three Thanksgivings, or even the fact that I was surrounded by a small gaggle of kids and grandkids, only one of whom managed to spill anything that would repattern the tablecloth. It wasn’t even having my Mom, now easing her way toward ninety-four, raising a glass of wine with us and providing a toast in her parents’ native Slovak. It was something much bigger, yet so small I don’t think anyone else even noticed.
Vigi had heaped the table with every imaginable Thanksgiving delight, to the point of overflow onto a convenient sideboard. With appropriate gratitude offered to the Lord and before I could even warn my taste buds, I found myself the salivating recipient of the turkey platter … then the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing and so forth. Without so much as a word between them, my two sons [at my immediate left] collaborated to see that I was the first to receive each serving plate, before anyone else! Of course Vigi, [to my immediate right] was next … then the rest. The organizational chart says that I’m head of the family but frequently, as the years whizzed by, I wondered if anyone had ever read it.
This gesture of respect was never taught to them, nor ever demanded … any more than I could have demanded the love that was so clearly behind it. At a time of life when many of my achievements seem to feel as though they were authored by some phantom, and self-doubt often interrupts reason, these two characters elevated me to the level of King Arthur, himself, presiding at the Round Table! It never happened before, and may never again, but the only way they can fully grasp the importance of their act is to be blessed with such a moment themselves. I wish it for them both.
As the meal progressed I looked and listened with growing pride to the conversational ebb and flow of four family generations … giggles, eye rolls and all. The little girls were now young women on the verge of accomplishing great things, my boys were beginning to sport the slightest touches of gray as middle age nibbles at their hairlines, and even Vigi’s sumptuous feast paled a bit in the glow of the royalty consuming it.
Most parents do the best they can to raise their children properly … to instill a traditional value system and an ethical sense of right and wrong. You may have noticed kids don’t come with an instruction manual and most people that have written books about them don’t seem to have any of their own. With so many potent outside forces that shape who these new adults become once they’ve graduated from home, all that remains is the hope you did something right along the way. When the table is cleared and dishes done, the things for which to be truly thankful are the ones, like this, that let you know you did.
Listen to Bananas Crackers and Nuts Podcast. Find Links under “Recent Podcasts”… and more shows on my Podcast Page.