Thankful, the day after

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 26, 2007

There are may ways to say thanks about Thanksgiving. From a writing standpoint, anyone can type a Thanksgiving column before that actual Thursday. Or a column about New Years, or Memorial Day, or July 4th or Veterans Day.

People who write regular columns thirst for such holidays for topic fodder. Frankly, holidays are

easy pickins. Sappy, perhaps, yet heartfelt.

Thanksgiving is the low-hanging fruit for subject matter. For most of us, it’s terribly optimistic: The thought of seeing family after an extended absence is easily a feel-good moment. Most stories about Thanksgiving are written in anticipation of the holiday. It is easy to wax optimistically of the upcoming: The upside is limitless.

What, getting to grandmother’s house — over the river and through the woods — in the snow was a song written after Thanksgiving? Of course not. If those were the circumstances, the song would be more along the lines of, “We’re thankful we pulled up short before getting to grandma’s, keeping the horses out of that damned icy stream because grandma never did repair that rickety bridge.”

Well, the point is, not every Thanksgiving is worthy of the Hallmark stamp of fame. Most are, for sure. Thank goodness. Some aren’t. That’s called life.

Bad Thanksgivings? Of course. And this being the day after, we can talk about some of them, and we can be just as thankful we don’t experience them again.

I’m thankful for never more being seated at the “kids’ card table” at the end of the family’s dining table, the very table at which I was an able attendee;

– I’m thankful for not having another Thankgiving from many years ago when, shortly after my graduation from James Madison, my parents came for dinner in my crappy apartment. On Thanksgiving Day, water stopped draining from the kitchen sink. Having to run water from my bathtub for cooking was not only embarrassing, but probably not especially sanitary;

– I’m thankful I no longer have to have Thanksgiving dinner at either of my grandmothers.’ I never thought their cooking was better than my mom’s;

– I won’t dwell on the year some of the dinner guests suffered from food poisoning;

– I’m thankful for something good that happened in a bad situation one year, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. My younger sister is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (Finally, a doctor in the family!). She got into bad spot while working in an exam room at the University of Georgia animal hospital. She was walking a seriously large bull through a long corral to its pen when something went wrong. The 600-pound bull (without horns) spooked, pinning my 115-pound sister to the wall, breaking her ribs and doing serious damage to her small, but athletic frame. Her injuries necessitated emergency surgery on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Surgeons listed my sister in critical condition in a hospital in Georgia, a long way from New York.

As expected, my mom went berserk, what with her daughter in a hospital 1,200 miles south. Certainly I’m not thankful for that, but I am thankful I was able to work the telephone and gather all the information I could. My mom realized she had to book seats for myself and my dad on a flight to Georgia on

the day before Thanksgiving, one of busiest travel days of the year. I’m thankful they made it on time and I’m thankful my sister recovered fully.

But I still maintain we should have served that bull as Thanksgiving dinner that year.