When did we become such a nation of worriers and complainers?
Thanksgiving -- that one day a year when we're supposed to count our
blessings -- now seems to evoke as much angst as it does pleasure.
Newspapers are filled with tips to avoid holiday quarrels among family
members or rush annoying relatives out the door before the gravy has dried
on the plate. It seems every local TV station is carrying warnings about the
fat content in the traditional meal, conjuring up images of instantly
expanding waistlines and exploding arteries to scare off even the hardiest
of eaters. Then, if we manage to make it through the meal without a family
feud or heart attack spoiling the holiday spirit, we're told we have to
worry about heading out on the highways or, worse, going through airport
security before we reach home.
It's all a bunch of hooey, and I'm having none of it. I intend
to thoroughly enjoy my Thanksgiving, no matter how hard anyone tries to ruin
it. My holiday started on Sunday evening when I picked up my 81-year-old
mother at the airport. Despite the travel horror stories, she arrived
safely, comfortably and on time. Since then, I've been shopping and cooking
up a storm -- without a second thought about whether what I've been buying
is good for me or my guests or that it will add a few pounds.
You can't convince me that processed soybeans taste as good as
old Tom Turkey or that yams were meant to be eaten without layers of butter
and marshmallows. As for stuffing, I like mine with sausage and a few ladles
of extra turkey drippings poured over before it's served. I almost never
dish up dessert, but there will be pumpkin and apple pies with plenty of
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on Thanksgiving. Sure, if we ate that way
every day, we'd be in trouble. But no one is going to convince me that we
can't indulge once or twice a year and be none the worse for it.
As for the stress of relatives -- no doubt extra personalities
mean more compromises. We'll have to keep the house a bit warmer to
accommodate Mother's aching joints, and everyone will have to speak a little
louder to be understood, but all of us are thankful that she's around to
share the holiday. I can't understand people who complain endlessly about
their parents or in-laws. My only complaint is that my father and
father-in-law aren't still alive to enjoy these family gatherings. As for
the kids, now two of them have kids of their own -- with a set of triplets
on the way -- but all three sons still love my cooking and make the long
hours over a hot stove worth every minute.
Oh, I'll probably be a little annoyed when the guys all head for
the big-screen TV at 4 o'clock sharp to watch the Redskins kickoff and the
grandkids start fighting over whether to watch "SpongeBob" or "A Bug's Life"
on the VCR. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thanksgiving is the quintessential family holiday. It's a time
to thank God for the gift of life and for being so fortunate as to live in
the greatest country in the world. It's a time to thank family members for
giving us the love and care that made us who we are today. It's a time to
forget our petty squabbles and jealousies, and remember that each of us has
foibles, so we ought to be a little more tolerant of the next person's
idiosyncrasies. There'll be plenty of time later to settle old scores, just
as there will be to exercise off those few new pounds. Thanksgiving is a
time to be happy, indulge a little, and relax with family and friends, not
to worry or complain.