By Wayne Osborn
This time of year always finds me reflecting on memories of Thanksgivings Past. As I approach my 46th Thanksgiving here on Planet Earth, some memories stand out more than others.
I remember getting together with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on many turkey days when I was a boy. The kids would all sit at a card table, and it was a fun to catch up with everyone. I remember the Thanksgiving of 1971, and hearing the news about D.B. Cooper hijacking Northwest Orient Flight 305. As a second grader, I loved reading mystery stories, and this was a real life mystery! Interestingly enough, it still is.
When I was a teenage boy I had a paper route, and I remember the Thanksgiving paper was the biggest, heaviest paper of the year, due to the huge amount of “toppers”, or advertisements. I dreaded delivering the paper on that day! After I turned 16, I traded in delivering papers for bagging groceries, and I was “safe” from working on Thanksgiving for awhile. These were the days when stores still closed early on Sundays, and were closed on most holidays. However, after the big chain store I worked for (Lucky Stores) sold their Northern Division, all bets were off. I then worked for an independent grocer who saw a way to make big money by keeping the store open on Thanksgiving. One year I worked from 10 AM to 7 PM. That day was a mixed bag: we were really busy in the morning, so that part of the day flew by. My lunch was spent eating a Swanson Turkey TV dinner by myself. I was getting depressed because my family was away having a “real” Thanksgiving without me. That afternoon, the store was completely dead by 3 PM, as everyone was safely ensconced in their homes, watching football and eating a festive holiday dinner with their loved ones. So, my fellow employees and I immersed ourselves in a spirited game of “Turkey Bowling”, using 10 two liter bottles for pins and a frozen turkey as the ball. Now you know what goes on in grocery stores on Thanksgiving afternoon!
One year my family ate Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital, because that’s where my mom was. As it turned out, it was the last Thanksgiving we would spend with my mother. The hospital certainly wasn’t my favorite place to be, but at least we were all together as a family. I remember riding up in the elevator with a gentleman who looked pretty glum, and I didn’t feel very happy myself. I said “This is a tough place to be, huh?” He looked at me and replied “When you’re sick, it’s the only place to be.” His comment really helped me to put things in perspective. I was thankful that there was a hospital for my mom to be in, even on Thanksgiving.
Now I’m older, and am employed in a field that provides for a Thanksgiving Holiday. I have a bigger family now, and so Thanksgiving is celebrated over a two day period. My family has two big dinners each year; Thursday is spent with my family, and Friday is spent with my wife’s side of the family. I’m blessed to have a job now that allows me those days off every year. I am grateful to those from many different walks of life who work on Thanksgiving Day, to provide safety and services to members of our society.
Last year, my wife and I started a new Thanksgiving tradition. We both ran in the Seattle ½ Marathon. It’s held each year on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. I’m running in it again this year. My wife hurt her foot, so she’s going to be a course marshal. Who knows how long we’ll keep this up, but it’s a nice way to end the Thanksgiving weekend, after gorging ourselves on food during the days leading up to the race.
For me, Thanksgiving is truly a time to think about how lucky we all are to live in a country that allows us the freedom to worship as we choose, to voice our political opinions in almost any manner that we see fit, and to exercise our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We really are pretty lucky, and we have a lot to be thankful for, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day.