It is not lost on me that, when I ask a rhetorical question like, “How in the world did it get to be Thanksgiving?”, I am mouthing a variation on the platitudes heard in the commercials in which people are trying to keep from becoming their parents.
You know the ones I’m talking about; the lady who announces via the speaker function on her smartphone, as she walks through a hardware store, that she had a big lunch, so she’ll only be having a snack for dinner, or the two guys that come to near-convulsions when a person with blue hair comes near them.
There is the one in which Dr. Rick (the “parenta-life coach”) conducts a class on cell phone features and mentions the silencer. A class member confidently states her phone does not have one of those.
(It was ten years before I knew my phone had one.)
My current favorite is the one in which a group of mid-lifers are in the parking lot of a football stadium, strategizing about the best spot for a quick exit while considering a third-quarter departure to beat the crowds.
We love these commercials because we know how much they ring true. At some point in life, whether we want to do it or not, we cross over into that land of true (alleged) maturity, saying and doing the things we witnessed our parents saying and doing, adages and actions at which we once might have scoffed.
One of my father’s signature warnings to my brother and me was of the infection sure to seep into our skin from the ink in the pens we used when we foolishly chose to mark on our hands or arms.
That was followed closely by the cautions of pneumonia certain to befall us if we were to go outside into the “night air” with our hair wet, or the irreversible gnarling of our hands resulting from our insistence on popping our knuckles.
Folks from my parents’ generation were also big on the “permanent record.” Apparently, when we reached a certain age, information regarding questionable actions we took would go into a file (which I am sure is now electronic) from which it could never be purged.
As a child, I spent no small amount of time fretting over that file, which I imagined to be somewhere in a warehouse in Washington, D.C.
And when you’re a grandparent? You have a fresh, new audience.
I have already warned my grands about poking their eyes out, their faces “freezing that way” and the colds they’ll catch from going barefoot.
And as I said at the beginning of this piece, I’m big on expressing wonder at the passage of time. That one is becoming more significant as I get older.
And I still can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving
As of the last count, we will have 19 humans at our house for Thanksgiving dinner – 15 adults and four little ones.
On our recent vacation out west, my wife and I made the menu one day as we were driving. I suppose that’s a very adult thing to do, but this kind of holiday with this many folks requires some planning, and it seemed like a good time.
My spouse will sometimes try something new for a holiday meal, and I suggested perhaps with this many, this would not be the year to do that. She agreed.
So we will stick with the basics like turkey and dressing, and our traditional sides such as corn casserole, green beans, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. Desserts will include pecan and pumpkin pies and a carrot cake.
Because we’re going out of town this weekend, we’re going to start setting the tables in the next few days and cover them with sheets to keep dishes from gathering dust before the big meal.
(If that’s not material for the next commercial, I don’t know what is.)
What are your plans and traditions? Will you be trying something new or sticking with the basics? How do you navigate things like married children who travel to the in-laws?
Even more important, how do you handle such crucial matters as the type of dressing (or stuffing, if you call it that) you will make? How have you and your spouse combined traditions each of you might have grown up with? Or how have you compromised?
I would love to hear from you about any of that, as well as stories of memorable Thanksgivings -- whether they are poignant or funny, such as the time you defrosted a frozen turkey with a hairdryer (guilty as charged on that one.)
Send your comments in an email and if I have enough, I’ll compile them for next week’s column.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].