Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, it's Thanksgiving, the only day where we gather as a team — family and friends — to sit down and eat the mascot. That aside, thankfulness is the cornerstone, the keynote reason for this tradition. And, hopefully, that sense of gratitude is never eclipsed for commercial reasons by prioritizing presents over presence, as is the case with Christmas and Easter. (OK, I'm cheap.)
Even though most people enjoy the traditional bird entree, after several encores of leftovers, we are usually glad when the turkey is finally gone a day or two later. Unlike the aftermath of an election, where we are often stuck with one for four or more years. (Rim shot, please.) Stay with me, this is not a political rant.
Not to sound like I'm sermonizing, but at our small haven on the St. Lawrence River, my wife and I once collaborated on the making of a sign. We found a piece of driftwood, painted it with our own words and hung it inside where its message is clear and obvious, to everyone and anyone, coming or going. I think its declaration is relative to the sentiment of what Thanksgiving is about:
“It takes 1,000 inconveniences to make a burden, and when your burdens outnumber your blessings … we'll listen to your complaint.”
To expand on something similar: the simple word “gratitude” is often used by my wife — and myself — to reel the other one in and set him (it's usually me) back on track when we find each other going off the rails. Priority is the most important tool in the bag of life.
When it (priority) is used in conjunction with appreciation, simply hearing that key word "gratitude" acts as a catalyst to make us step back, take a deep breath and reboot. It keeps us from losing sight of the bigger picture.
(This works, unless of course, you are neck deep in quicksand and a flock of seagulls has decided to stop and use your head as a toilet.)
I digressed, sue me.
One of the things that I enjoy most about Thanksgiving is the pure emotion elicited in the form of laughter. It may be true that “the family that prays together, stays together,” but I believe you can add that "the family that laughs together, stays together" as well. As the Beau Brummels advised back in 1965, “Laugh, laugh.”
About 10 or 15 years ago, when the grandkids were quite young, my wife started an annual tradition with our family. She dubbed it the “turkey hunt.” She cleverly crafted turkey-shaped containers out of oatmeal boxes and stuffed them with treats. They were then scattered throughout the backyard awaiting a squad of make-believe hunters to track them down and claim their personal bounties.
When the idea first came about, I asked Kathie if she needed help. “Sure do,” she shot back, “can you sit down and eat several hundred bowls of oatmeal?” Alrighty then. The cardboard turkeys weren't the only things stuffed that first year. Pass the milk.
Weather permitting, we still practice that fun event. Tradition is ageless. In fact, at Easter, we just switch the turkeys to wicker baskets. The goodies inside range from jelly beans to socks, and the prizes pale in comparison to the festive atmosphere generated by the get-together.
And invariably, every spring when I fire up the Cub Cadet for the first time, I discover undiscovered multi-colored plastic eggs by mowing over them. The shattered plastic and flying candy from inside is indicative that I either hid them too well or our junior sleuths were too excited to look hard enough.
Kathie use to know the exact count, but gave that up after I confessed, under a bright-light, hard-core grilling, “Yes, yes I took some for myself and hid them under my work bench in the barn.” (Hey … there's jelly beans inside!)
I remember one year, after accidentally driving over a hidden cache and hopping off the mower in an effort to salvage some candy. Kathie was raking, not far away. I hollered over to her, while holding up a handful of treats, “Hey, when did we start putting unwrapped Tootsie Rolls in the baskets?”
“We didn't,” she yelled back.
Our dog, Maggie, just laughed and laughed. Alrighty then.
And that's the way it looks from the Valley.
Tom Valley is a turkey in Medina who contributes to this newspaper. Contact him at: Tvalley@Rochester.RR.com.