Thanksgiving at our house is casual and haphazard. To accommodate everyone we butt up our rectangular kitchen table against our oval dining room table. There are lapses in hard tabletop surfaces, but it’s worth it to not have long table ends where conversations get lost.
My good china is 12 plates, so I need to mix in the everyday dishes too. My best silverware stretches to just eight. Holidays at our house are mismatched, at best.
In my childhood, my Mom cooked all day long. The table was set the night before. A centerpiece: mandatory.
The first time I saw my house, in a real estate ad, I fell in love with the sweeping yard and wrap-around porch over the walkout basement. But when my husband and I drove up to the home to tour it, we felt turned around. What we’d assumed was the backyard was actually the front. Our house is like that. Unexpected.
My kindergarten-aged son loved Packer Football, the cartoon Gargoyles and pestering his younger brother.
I don’t remember all the things his new kindergarten friend loved. But one day on a car ride over to our house, the friend told my son about a video his mom had just bought. “It’s called Care Bears. And they have all these great bears. They live in Care-A-Lot land. And there’s a bedtime bear. There’s a Funshine bear. And there’s a Tenderheart bear.”
My son must have been considering this deeply because it took him a long moment to respond. Finally, he asked, “Do they have any bad bears?”
My dad volunteered at 17. He wanted to be a pilot, but didn't pass the vision test. Before starting Basic Training he took a few college classes. Then he was shipped out to Camp Croft, South Carolina as a rifleman to learn jungle warfare. Thankfully, the war ended while he was still stateside, So instead of Japan, he was sent to Germany as part of the Occupation Army. At this time, the army was sending the soldiers who'd seen combat home as fast as they could. New recruits coming in moved up the ranks fast. When the army saw Dad had a few Journalism classes they put him to work in the PR office of the Ninth Infantry.
Dad was housed in a chateau in Tutzing, Germany that had belonged to an Opera Singer. My dad shared the whole place with just one other private, neither was yet twenty.
One day Dad was sent to report on a ski meet the army was holding in Garmisch, where the winter Olympics had been in 1936. The Olympic ski jump still remained. As my dad watched, one soldier did such a spectacular jump the General officiating stood up and declared to the Private, "I'm making you a Sergeant!" Dad loves that story.
Veteran's Day reminds us that It's imperative we provide everyone who serves our country with high quality, safe healthcare, education that prepares them fully for their next success, safe and affordable housing, and meaningful and satisfying employment.
But my Dad has always been thankful for the army and the GI Bill that sent him to college.
Thank you to all our veterans for your service and sacrifice.
One son, then 16, was at summer sleep away camp for a month. Son two, 12 was headed up for sixteen days. I sent along a few things to restock the older brother; sandals, a football magazine, razor and shaving cream. I can’t be sure if I explained to younger son to give the bag to his brother. Maybe. But if so, not well enough.
They returned smelly, exhausted and trampling over each other to tell zany camp stories -- the crazy things their cabin mates did, the crazier thingstheir counselors let them do. We pack the car up with half-filled duffel bags and overfilled laundry bags and drive immediately to lunch. The only thing they’ve missed more than our Brittany Spaniel is Punch Pizza.
As we walk from the car, I trip over the little brother’s sandals, and he missteps.
“Why does everyone keep doing that?” I look down at the plastic sandals, the front foot loop, nearly torn from the base. My son’s heel is a good two inches ahead of the sandal's end.
“Everyone keeps doing that because those are your brother’s. You were supposed to bring them to his cabin.”
“Oh,” says the younger.
“That’s where my stuff was,” says the older.
“Did you wonder why I sent shaving stuff with you?" I ask the younger.
“I thought I might need to start. I was at camp for two weeks.”
When the kids were little I never got around to cleaning the oven. (Don't ask what my excuse is now.) And so nearly every evening as I cooked dinner the roasted-on sludge would set off the smoke detector. The kids would run over and grab a dish towel and fan their hearts out. Or, just as often, scoot closer to the TV, turn the sound up and ignore the blaring blasts.
One morning, some friends were coming over. Ambitiously, I decided to make blueberry muffins from scratch. (FYI - I mean from a box, but you add an egg, so there's that.) A few minutes later the muffins, with their glorious little canned blueberries were tucked away in the oven, baking to a golden goodness when the smoke detector roared to life.
My middle son ran over. His eyes were shiny and his mouth half open in astonishment. "Mommy, he asked, "Is it dinner already?"
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