Stories are gifts: We should do that once a week

[Note from KP: I have asked my sister – who holds most of the memories in our family – to contribute some of her stories during this holiday season.]

As the English-major sister here, I feel a little bit of pressure to be both profound and succinct in this guest post – so, let me kick things off with a silly quote from an extremely verbose writer (Aaron Sorkin), about a conversation on turkey-cooking methods: “That was excellent! We should do that once a week.”

That line is from an episode of “The West Wing,” and it is delivered by President Bartlet, referring to the Butterball Hotline, a 24-hour 800 number where the phones are staffed by experts. In turkey cooking. Last Thanksgiving, my cousins and I sat on the couch and watched that clip, and laughed our faces off, then ate a delicious meal. Really, what else could you ask for?

I have long held that my favorite holiday is not my birthday, that special day that everyone gets just to themselves, or Christmas, with its pageantry and traditions. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, no contest. It’s just so cozy. Christmas involves lots of  presents to buy, holiday parties to attend, church services to get to on time, neighbors to bake for, traffic to fight…but Thanksgiving, by its nature, is a time for rest and reflection. It is a national invitation to unhurried fellowship with loved ones. I have multiple fond memories of driving to Chicago to have Thanksgiving with my mom’s sister when we were young, and in later years swapping off with my dad’s sister and her family for Thanksgiving hosting privileges in Ohio. When you wake up in the morning and (after the turkey is in the oven) the most pressing thing on your mind for at least the next two hours is the Macy’s parade and a crossword puzzle, how can you not be thankful? You can even put Matt and Meredith on mute for a while and take a mid-morning nap. The house is filled with the wonderful, oh-so-tempting aroma of cooking turkey – and really, even if you’re a vegetarian, how could that not smell good? There are yummy appetizers to snack on, and no one is in a hurry, especially once the bird comes out of the oven and everyone just gets to stare at it, resting on the counter in all its golden glory.

I belong to the school of “turkey-pickers,” those who linger by the bird as it’s being carved and pick up those first juicy bits of meat or that one piece of stuffing poking out at just the right angle for you to grab it with your fingertips. Despite all the wonderful stuff filling the table in the next room, those first few bits are always what taste the best to me.

I am grateful that Thanksgiving doesn’t lend itself to commercialism as much as Christmas; at least for a few hours on a Thursday night, it feels like most people in America are acting unselfishly. Some are spending their evening sharing a meal with the homeless, distributing food parcels, opening their homes to those whose families are far away. I am usually eating unhurriedly, enjoying the meal, the conversation, anticipating coffee and dessert, thinking about how insanely blessed I am to be sitting at a table with people I love and who love me, in a warm house with plenty of food and a place to sleep that night. It’s a NATIONAL day of THANKSGIVING. Ya can’t beat that. Plus, when you’re stuffed with turkey and pie, the dishes are done, and everyone has argued about the correct pronunciation of “tryptophan,” there’s all those great movies on TV, and you can again be thankful for laughter and satisfaction.

I heartily agree with President Bartlet, “That was excellent! We should do that once a week.”

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One thought on “Stories are gifts: We should do that once a week

  1. I vote the Butterball-hotline-episode-watching become tradition. (I got the knife from the king of- auto sales in- Fargo!- Fargo. Phil Baharn. The man can sell a car, well, like anything…..”) That’s my favorite West Wing episode. And I love you. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday too- for many of the same reasons you listed, but mostly because we break bread at the table with the people we love. Warmth, food, and the unavoidable photos- sounds like Thanksgiving to me. 🙂

    Good call on the guest posting, Kris. Approve.

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