On the John
Thanksgiving’s healing power
Originally published in the Indiana Daily Student on November 20, 2001
I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. It is, in my opinion, the greatest holiday that does not involve my birthday. Between food, football, friends, and family, it is everything that a holiday should be. It is one of the highlights of what I consider to be the best stretch of the year: Halloween to the last day of winter break.
Although it was the 19th time I’d celebrated the holiday, I anticipated last year’s Thanksgiving more than any that preceded it. It was my first one that I had to return home for. I had been home three times already before that, but with my friends all in school, it didn’t feel as much as home. Now I was going home, and it was going to be like I had remembered it. I got home early Wednesday morning, visited my high school, took a nap, went out with my buddies, and went to bed thinking about the next day.
The day starts with football. My brother, my friends, and I gather for the annual Turkey Bowl, which we’ve been playing more than ten years. Like last year, this year’s game takes on added significance because it is the first time since August that I have been with all of my best friends. The game is fun and at times intense, and even though there are two teams, I’ve always felt like there was just one. We play until we’re tired and sore, (particularly me, since I’m the smallest), and then we go home to shower up and get ready for dinner.
The moment my brother and I get home from the game, there is a great calm in the house. I usually let him shower first, because I like to sit down and check out the football games. Sure the Bears don’t play on Thanksgiving every year, but over the years I’ve come to enjoy seeing Detroit and Dallas host games. I like seeing all of the little kids talk about what they eat for Thanksgiving dinner. And of course there is John Madden’s freakish mutant turkey whose legs he distributes to the best players of the Detroit game.
The games end, and dinner begins. Dinner is served at our dining room table with my grandparents, my parents and my brother, and other friends and family. Over the years, our group has grown smaller due to people moving away and dinner schedules clashing. I remember being upset that I wasn’t going to see certain family members for my favorite holiday, but over the years I’ve realized how fortunate and blessed I am to be surrounded by those with whom I will eat dinner on Thursday.
After dinner, everyone is happy. The house is now quiet, filled with small stories of years past, as well as coffee and cake. Couches and chairs are filled as everyone in the house talks, laughs, and listens. One by one, people leave the house, and while there is a tinge of sadness that we must wait a year for another Thanksgiving, the overall mood is one of joy.
Ever since September 11th, people have been looking for a break from mourning and a return to normalcy. I have a feeling that in the wake of our national tragedy, the saying “There’s no place like home” will be truer than ever. I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and hopefully it will be the break that we all need.
Copyright 2001, jm silverstein