Thanksgiving – Past and Present

Thanksgiving was always my favorite Holiday.
When I was young, my family always travelled to West Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with my grandparents. There were plenty of aunts and uncles and cousins to visit with.
After becoming an adult with a home of my own, things changed. I love to decorate and cook and enjoyed having the whole family come for dinner. There was no stress about gifts and everyone pitched in with the clean-up and there was time to relax and visit. For several years my sister and her family (husband and three daughters) came down from up-state New York and stayed for the week-end. Sometimes the weather caused some anxiety, but we always prevailed. I miss those days – the girls are all married with families of their own, scattered along the East Coast.
My daughter’s husband and son are hunters so they are never available for Thanksgiving dinner and my son’s work schedule frequently causes him to miss the festivities. I’ve been known to host a big Thanksgiving dinner on the following Sunday or even a week later to accommodate everyone.
A couple of years ago my daughter and daughter-in-law got together and brought the entire Thanksgiving dinner to us – turkey and all. What a treat! This year my husband and I are going to my son’s house and I only have to take cornbead.
I hope there is some left-over turkey I can bring home.
But other aspects of Thanksgiving have also changed. The emphasis seems to be on which department store can open the earliest on Friday – some even opening on Thanksgiving Day. Have we lost focus? Is a tradition dying? I certainly hope not.
It is true that this has been a tough year – natural disasters, mass killings, terrorist threats, and family violence. Even so, we have much to be thankful for. The newspaper today was full of announcements of organizations providing free Thanksgiving meals for the needy all over the area. We can be thankful for the compassion of those who are reaching out to others. We should and can be thankful if we are not classed as “needy”. I know am.
I will not be joining the throngs packing the parking lots and racing for bargains. I will be content on Friday to relax at home and enjoy the view from my spot at the top of the hill and reflect on my blessings and memories of Thanksgivings past. Maybe next year I can realize my dream of being the “grandmother” presiding over a bountiful feast with my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren filling the house with laughter. If not, maybe I’ll join a group feeding the needy.
Stay tuned.


Time Consuming Losses

It must be old age – so many of my friends complain of the same ailment.  You’re right on schedule and ready to go out the door,   BUT you can’t find:  (take your pick)  

        * car keys 


        *sun glasses

        *cell phone

        *map and directions

And the search begins.  Obviously they’re not where they belong or you wouldn’t be going through this frustrating search.  So you try the next obvious place without success.  Where/when was the last time you used them?  What were you wearing?  A thorough inspection of every jacket, skirt, coat, and pair of slacks turns up nothing.  Now a slight bit of panic starts to creep in – but you’re not ready to give in.  After all, you built  a five minute emergency contingency into your schedule.

So sit down, take a deep breath and THINK!   Can you just forget the search and go without the lost item?  Not if it’s the car keys or your glasses.  Do you call and make apologies?  No – the phone number is on the paper with the directions.   Suddenly you realize that five minute bonus has expired and panic sets in full blast.  You  glance  around and the house looks like the aftermath of a drug raid.

It’s time to take another deep breath and begin the search again – this time more slowly and methodically.  Start with the purse – there are your keys,   It’s almost dark so don’t worry about the sun glasses; and yes, here’s the map and directions – which are useless without your glasses.  In utter frustration, you run your fingers through your hair . . . uh-oh!  There are the glasses, perched on top of your head!

Decision  time!  Do you call and cancel or do you make an attempt and blame your tardiness on traffic?  You choose the latter and as you traverse the strange roads, you berate yourself for the time wasted.  You must get more organized.

And then you draw comfort from remembering that most of your friends can tell of the same experiences.


I hate being late, but I am, frequently. Usually because I can’t find something I need. One of the worst offenders is the matching earring. So I spent 2 hours recently re-organizing my jewelry chest. We’ll see how long that lasts. The next item is my cell phone. Sometimes it can be located by calling it from the house phone – provided the battery is properly charged. But recently, after trying everything else, I went to my neighbor’s house, and asked permission to look in the back seat of her van because I remembered that my purse had upset on the way home from the restaurant the night before. Sure enough, there it was. My husbands’s glasses are another problem. But I have almost conquered that. When I get up in the morning I look for wherever he may have left them the night before and place them with the morning paper on his place mat at the kitchen table. They are his responsibility the rest of the day.
Do you suffer from this syndrome? Is there a treatment or a cure? I don’t think “sticky notes” are the answer – I’d soon have my whole house papered with them.
Of course, organization is the perfect answer, (a place for everything and everything in its place) but I think I received a flawed gene in that department when I was assembled. My last resort is to build in a longer “emergency contingency” when preparing to go out.
Happy Hunting!

Raking Leaves



            To me, the leaf blower is an abomination.  Leaf raking is an art; it is good exercise; therapeutic; and can be fun in the right company, i.e., a grandchild or a playful pet.  The shrill noise of a leaf blower intrudes on the quiet serenity of an autumn afternoon or evening.


          As a child, raking leaves was a chore, but if you lived in the right neighborhood, it could be a source of income.  Or, if you had the right parents, it could boost your allowance.  As a young adult, a well-kept lawn, free of fallen leaves, was a source of pride.  Raking the leaves also afforded a social opportunity.  What better way to catch up on the neighborhood gossip than to pause, lean on your rake, and chat with the folks next door?


          As a young parent, it was fun to have the children run and jump in your pile of leaves, scattering them so the process could be repeated again and again.  Sometimes it was even fun to jump in and roll around with them – at least until reality set in and you realized the job had to be finished.   Then came the day when the children were replaced by playful kittens or puppies, and then grandchildren.  The job might be a bit more difficult by the time the grandchildren enter the scene, but you had more patience and it brought back fond memories.


          There were two theories about raking leaves –(1)  get them up as soon as they fall – a process that had to be repeated almost daily for several weeks, or (2)  wait until they were all down and only have to do it once.  On the second option, there was always the risk that the wind would blow some of them onto your neighbor’s lawn – your neighbor who subscribed to the first option.  There was also the risk that it would rain  — and wet leaves are not fun to rake.


          Raking leaves could be very therapeutic.  There’s something calming about the sound of dry leaves crunching under your feet as you rake,  along with the sound of the rake rhythmically scratching the surface of the ground.  A lot of problems can be sorted out in your mind as you make your neat piles.  You can also challenge yourself to make straight rows or block sections, properly spaced or random piles.  The thought processes during an hour of leaf raking are endless.


          Then there’s the question of disposal.  Do you bag them to be picked up by the trash collectors; do you use them as winter mulch for your shrubs; or do you burn them?   Before environmental laws prohibited the latter, that was the preference.  The aroma of burning leaves is now a distant but pleasant memory.


          Now we have the unpleasant roar of the leaf blower and the equally unpleasant sound of the leaves  being slurped up by a huge vacuum machine to be hauled away and ground up.


         And up here on the Hill, I have very few trees.   Anybody need some leaves raked?