Moving On Thanksgiving

Posted: November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized
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“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”~ Havelock Ellis

As many millions of people in the United States are doing their last minute preparations for Thanksgiving Day, I noted the actual date in which this holiday has fallen this year. The actual numbered day of the month of November.

In 2012, Thanksgiving Day in the United States will be the 22nd of November.

This day is a bit more significant for me and my family other than just it being Thanksgiving Day.

All the way back in 1984, Thanksgiving Day also landed on the 22nd of November. So then why is it so significant?

That was the exact date that year when my family had moved from Sherwood, Arkansas to Winfield, Kansas. My family had been packing for what seemed like forever and I as a child still had to attend school until the Thanksgiving break.

From the time that I had made the announcement in my class that my family was in fact going to move, until the very last day of school being in session before the holiday break, I was treated much like a crowned prince. Extra special favors came from the teacher and from the school itself.

I was rather excited about the move, because I was about to be in a brand new place that I had never been before. The idea in my infant mind was thrilling. But the feeling was not shared by all of my siblings. So it was a mixed bag of emotions for the family.

Of course my short life up until that point was aware that the usual feast of turkey, dressing, and dessert was to be on that day. And I began to wonder if it was cancelled. At least for my family.

That very early morning the family would wake and then we all went out to eat for breakfast. Something that we didn’t do that often. Not breakfast. And then when we got back, it was time for my parents to pick up the last of our things and get into the family vehicle, and begin to drive several hundred miles to our new home.

I remember that a moving van had taken a majority of our things ahead of time, so there wasn’t really much to pack up that morning.

The neighbors came out to say their final farewells. Even the neighborhood kids that me and my younger brother had played with all of our lives were nervous, sad, and didn’t really know what to say other than good-bye. Apparently my family had made quite an impression on everyone.

And off we went. We all were unsure of what was to happen. The fact of my mother just being diagnosed with cancer less than a year before, it swiftly turned to this bright future of exploring new things to a nervous watch on my mother to see how she would handle the all day ride with her illness.

My father had said in the vehicle that we actually would have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a family there in Kansas. And they were expecting us to arrive in the evening. But for those of you who have children know that their attention spans don’t grasp such things.

I recall stopping somewhere in the northeastern part of Oklahoma for lunch. And because it was Thanksgiving Day, NOTHING was open!!! No fast food, no diners, nothing. Just a few gas stations along the highway. But that was only if you were lucky. Convenience stores and gas stations were nothing back then like they are today.

Lunch however that day would be at a truck stop. But exactly where, I no longer remember. I do recall almost vividly a hand written sign inside of the truck stop that said “NO CHILDREN ALLOWED AT BAR” and that scared the crap out of me.

The truck stop had a buffet style restaurant inside and I was thinking that the “bar” in question was a food bar, but I was incorrect. There was actually a watering hole directly attached to the side of the restaurant.

There was also a sign that said “EAT ALL OF WHAT YOU TAKE, PLEASE” and to me, that meant even less. I recall that it would terrify my young mind shortly after when I had asked my parents if I could have more food and they both warned me strictly about eating everything and leaving nothing to waste. Well, that second plate of food did go to waste because I had become full. I was scared to death of what they were going to do to me for not eating anything. The fear inside of my childish mind consumed me to the point that once I had admitted that I was full, my eyes were full of tears until the point where we paid for our lunch and got back out on the highway.

Eventually, we arrived at our new location after dark. It was pretty late that I remember. So we had a traditional Thanksgiving feast and then when that was done, my entire family pretty much went to bed.

Once we walked into the house of our holiday host, I began to think about my best friend who lived across the street and how there would be no more neighborhood kickball matches in the street or in someone’s front or backyard.

I began to think of all the other boys in girls in my class that I had left. Particularly one that I thought was cute named Summer.

I began to think suddenly after that of all the girls that were in the neighborhood, city and other places that I was sweet on and would give hugs and kisses. Knowing that I would never do it again. And how I wanted to be able to hug and kiss them more and more.

Yes even then, girls were not an alien thought to my boyhood mind.

But our host family was kind and even though it was so late when we arrived, they had held off THEIR holiday meal until we had arrived.

All of this happening Thanksgiving Day of 1984. Soon for my family, we would remember the anniversary of that date for many years to come. Until we had moved again in 1989. Less than two full years after my mother had died. And less than a full year from when my father had re-married. Those months were like a blur because so much had happened so quickly.

But the move in 1989 did not occur on Thanksgiving Day. But rather we moved after the end of the school year in May. Memorial Day to be exact. I started to think that there was a pattern that if my family was ever to move from one location of the country to the next or even across the state that we would always do so on some holiday. That train of thought however disappeared once I started high school.

The whole purpose of Thanksgiving Day is not lost on me. I have plenty to give thanks for. Especially in the last decade and a half of my life. As an adult, I can appreciate a lot more things in life that I know I’ve been fortunate to experience. As a boy, I probably wouldn’t think the same.

The Thanksgiving holiday in the United States is always the fourth Thursday in November. But it does not always happen on the 22nd of the month. It did back in 1984 and it does in 2012.  So I made the connection this week when thinking about what I am actually thankful for this year.

 

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