The last pieceI can almost smell the mincemeat and apple pies, sitting on the porch rail to cool, and woe to the child who even contemplated poking a finger in one before The Big Meal.

In my youth, this was an aromatic week, culminating in a table full of turkey, at least one type of squash (and I love them all, in sooth), a humungous bowl of mashed potatoes, a heaping pile of hand-squooshed biscuits and a bowl of cranberry sauce. When cranberry sauce became available in cans, Mom was sure anyone who used the stuff would be consigned to the lower reaches of the eternal furnace.

Apple pie is a staple of the pie world, good anytime, warm or cold, with cheddar cheese or ice cream, or without. There just isn’t any such thing as bad apple pie. (Well, some of those store-bought pies are a little over sugared and under appled, but even then …)

But there are certain other pies that evoke specialness. Mincemeat is one, made with real minced deer meat – or sometimes green tomatoes, I think. It’s got a sharp aroma and flavor that makes one think, even in memory, of family gathered around the Turkey Day tableau, Mom and Dad and four kids, everyone in love with everyone else.
“Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts …”

Memories of family dinners abound.

The time when Dad began to say one of Jackie Gleason’s trademark utterances, and our youngest sister, still in a high chair that had supported the bottoms of at least two generations of offspring, called out, “How sweet it is – Ha! Ha! I beat you to it!”

Dad, who’d been beat by a the four-year-old, guffawed so hard and uncontrollably, his face turned bright red and a look of fear began to cloud Mom’s also laughing visage; she was worried Dad would succumb. He didn’t.

We had some laughs at that table.

What occurs to me is how many people are not celebrating thanksgiving. Our warriors overseas, for instance, eating turkey and fixings in war zone chow halls, if they are lucky, or maybe turkey in Meals Ready to Eat packages (what back in the day were called “box lunches.” I have never eaten in a shooting war zone, not counting box lunches over Da Nang in a four-engine patrol plane before descending to near wave-top level to search for enemy supply boats during the Vietnam War.

But I have been on an aircraft carrier on the Mediterranean Sea, using colored Markers to draw windows and winter snow on Plexiglas panels.
I have never actually been rifle to rifle with an enemy, nor have I ever been forced from my home while warriors of one army tried to kill warriors of another army by shooting across my kitchen table. I have, in the other hand, been bullied for being from a city when my family moved to a rural town, but my attackers were few and the only thing they had against me was I was from someplace they had never been, and many of them would never go.

Eventually, we became friends. We still were different, but we were friendly different. Among the things we had in common was looking forward to family around the Thanksgiving table.
So my wish to my readers is that we revel in our difference, and, this being published the day after Thanksgiving, that the Thanksgiving turkey left one and all well napped and surrounded by family and laughing around the table.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours, and thanks for putting up with these mental meanderings of mine.