But let's not get too far into the future. I'm going to look forward to this Thanksgiving as if it were my last. Because if I've learned anything In the time I've spent on this earth it's that you can never take anything, including Thanksgiving, for granted.
Growing up in a large family, Thanksgiving was a memorable day. Waking up to the smell of a big turkey roasting in the oven or the aroma of homemade pumpkin pie. The touch football game up at McCollough's field. Attempting to sit 10 people around the dining room table which meant two had to share the piano bench because we didn't have 10 chairs.
And then there was the year my Dad decided to ask everyone what they were the thankful for. Bad idea, Dad. Joe said he was glad to have nice parents (someone kicked him from under the table). I said I was glad I had a saxophone to play. Around the table we went until we came to Jerry, the youngest, who was 4 or 5 at the time. What happened next is family folklore for the ages.
"Jerry, what are you thankful for", Dad asked.
"My dick", he proclaimed proudly.
"JERRY!" Dad screamed.
Milk was shooting out of Katie's nose. Tony, Joe and I were snickering like Beavis and Buttthead. Even mom couldn't hide her amusement at his antic. Dad remained unamused and didn't appreciate the signs of encouragement coming from the rest of us.
The only one to defend Jerry was Jane, who was the second youngest. "Quit picking on him, he didn't mean it". Yes he did because he said it again. More roars of approval. Dad, still not finding the humor, took decisive action.
They were both banished to the kitchen table where they finished their meal in shame.
The boys were always assigned clean-up duty which involved the 3 primary roles of wash, dry and put-away. Wash was the job you wanted to avoid--a great big meal means a great big mess and wash meant you had to scrub all the greasy, dirty pots, pans, and plates. Put-away was the best job because you could stand in the kitchen door and watch the beginning of the "Wizard of Oz" and still be on the job.
Not all my Thanksgivings have been the kind I want to reminisce about.
There was the year I had my Thanksgiving dinner at Denny's. Yeah, the same Denny's where you get your ham and cheese omelet, not your turkey and dressing. Who eats Thanksgiving dinner at Denny's? I did, that year. Not the best year of my life, but on that day, I had something in common with every other anonymous soul at that Denny's restaurant.
And my first year in Lincoln, newly relocated and relationship-less, when I shared Thanksgiving dinner with a group of people I didn't know. I had shared at an AA meeting earlier that week that I had no plans for Thanksgiving and the offers came. And rather than sit in my apartment and feel sorry for myself, which would have been my preferred choice, I accepted the gesture of kindness, awkward and humbling as it was.
Remember? Yes, I do. Reminisce? Not really.
The turkey has been purchased-it's in the basement freezer and will make the trip to Kansas City on Wednesday night. GK and Steph will cook it up and the house will smell of roast turkey and pumpkin pie just like I remember. Grandchildren and a beagle, enough chairs for everyone, and no one will be banished to the kitchen.
We'll celebrate my 61st birthday after dinner with a piece of pumpkin pie, topped with homemade whipped cream and a candle, I hope. I'll have some helpers to blow out the candle.
I'll remember those we've lost this year and in the past and say a prayer for those whose Thanksgiving may be their last.
And I'll be grateful.