Dude, I’m tellin’ ya………..
So Thanksgiving is just a few days away now. I haven’t really mentioned it much, but I like Thanksgiving as much as the next guy. Hanging out with the family, a huge meal, football all day. Having the day off work if you still have a job these days. The whole nine yards.
I actually had a period where Thanksgiving wasn’t that much of a highlight simply because of work. As a 16-18 year old working jobs at gas stations, liquor stores, and the like, I had to work on Thanksgiving every year; at least for a four hour shift or so until the business closed for the day. And then as a young adult, I worked in the retail industry and God forbid you miss Black Friday. It was always ‘all hands on deck’ in retail. Depending on the nature of the job—like when I was in a high stress lending/collection office—-Thanksgiving couldn’t really even be thoroughly enjoyed. The notion of having to go in the next morning and make the same harassing phone calls to people who had the day off themselves took much of the pleasure out of the holiday.
Any time off from that job was a chance for peace and quiet. A chance to clear your head and have some alone time. It was tough to socialize properly being so mentally worn down. I just wanted to lay on the couch and watch football.
Actually, I still just wanna do that on Thanksgiving.
But the socializing, and the playing cards or a board game with the rest of the family is right up there at the top again.
My fondest memories, like many people, are the Thanksgivings of my youth. You were off school for the holiday and Friday at a minimum. So it was a four day weekend and none of us yet had the pressures and stress of adulthood. When we were adolescents, my brother and I would go in my grandma’s backyard and try to kick field goals before the games came on TV. She had electrical lines or something hanging at a nice height over her yard and we would use that as the cross bar. Bro was always better than me at it. He was older too. Maybe that had something to do with it.
Then we’d have the great feast with me, bro, and our two cousins sitting at the “kid’s table”. That was fine, though. Back then, you didn’t want to be in on the adult conversations about work or money problems. The rest of the afternoon was filled in with pro football on TV. And then at night came the turkey sandwiches and we’d all play the card game Screw Your Neighbor. Sometimes it was a different game. Grandma seemed to have about a thousand of ’em.
Grandpa was quite the character too. Had some eccentricities about him—that’s for sure. He deserves his own post sometime down the road.
Once we got to be teenagers, bro and I were more inclined to sneak alcoholic drinks rather than practice field goals. We were pretty successful because no one was really expecting anything the first few years and weren’t paying us a lot of attention. Then when they started catching on, my older cousin would get blamed every year for feeding us the drinks. He never really did at all. But he was a heavy drinker and the partier of the younger family. So he’d get yelled at and lectured by Grandma. It was hilarious, really.
Cousin Bill had a pretty good sense of humor though, and shook it all off as soon as he escaped back to the living room and football. He’d laugh and imitate Grandma. Plus, he was usually half-loaded himself already. Before he passed away a few years ago, he used to love recalling the look of astonishment on Grandma’s face when she discovered the fifth of tequila she had bought for him (for the entire day) was gone about 2 hours after his arrival. He’d imitate her shocked, grandmotherly voice, “You mean you drank that whole bottle already ?? Oh my Lord ! ”
He’d crack himself up recollecting it every time. And then he’d usually admonish me (and bro if he was around) for “always getting him in trouble with our own drinking“. He’d say, “Oh yeah….you guys think it’s funny. I got yelled at every year.”
One of the more memorable Thanksgiving traditions had to do with cousin Bill and the piece-of-shit cars he always drove. Me, my brother, and our cousin Mike (Bill’s kid brother) would already be at Grandma’s house. And if you happened to hear a car muffler backfire or an M-80 fircracker go off, one of us would always say, “Bill’s here !!! ”
Cracked us up. Ten minutes later there’d be another backfire and he really would be pulling in. We’d go to the front door and look at what he was driving and laugh our balls off. He’d get out of the car and ask, “What’s so funny? ”
Now my folks are retired in another state. My mom is now the Grandma of the stories for my nieces and nephews. They come in about every-other-year for the winter holidays. We gather at my sister’s home and she does 75% of the work. We play beer pong and air hockey in the basement before dinner. And afterwards we usually play a new board game that’s popular.
But we still get in all of the football. Don’t think for a minute bro and I would miss that.
One of my greatest Thanksgiving memories ever is when I was 10 years old in 1980. The Bears were playing the Detroit Lions as they were wont to do almost every year on Thanksgiving. The game went into overtime and a little-known player named David Williams ran the overtime kickoff all the way back for the Bears. Game over.
I think that was one of the happiest I’ve ever seen my dad in my entire life.
Then we went to Grandma’s and stuffed our faces.
Have an awesome Thanksgiving with your family and friends everyone !