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The End of Thanksgiving as We Know It

By Gloria Diaz

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Fort Wayne Reader


I read the news just a few minutes ago. Both Wal-mart and Sears will be open on Thanksgiving, at 8 p.m. And next year, it will be earlier, and the year after that it will be earlier, until there won't be “Thanksgiving” as we know it anymore. It will just be Black Thursday. Then, they will start with Christmas. Instead of 5 a.m. sales starting December 26, it will be moved back to midnight, then 8 p.m. Christmas night, then earlier and earlier. Don't believe me? It will happen.

I remember years ago, when I worked in Huntington, one of my co-workers said K-mart was going to be open on Thanksgiving, and said he might go over there with his family that day. “You know, sometimes it gets boring during the day, there's nothing to do, so we'll shop.” Okay, I don't know if he said this exactly, but he did mention breaking up the boredom of the day. The “boredom” of a day off work? He seemed a little weird anyway.

Thanksgivings of my youth meant waking up to a house that smelled like turkey. That was my dad's job. That and making the stuffing, which meant not Stove Top, but carefully cut bread dried and seasoned. Raisins in the stuffing. And dad making a separate pan of stuffing as well as the portion inside the turkey. The stuffing in the pan was crisp on the top, moist on the bottom. Mom created the mashed potatoes, which involved using electric beaters and a little bit of milk, and a makeshift way of putting the pan of mashed potatoes into a pot of boiling water, and served at the last minute. Cold or even lukewarm mashed potatoes weren't an option at our house. And neither was cold food. People were summoned to the table, then the food was brought out.

I had my job too. Setting the table, pouring the drinks. Sometimes food prep, but both parents in the same kitchen meant there wasn't much room for anyone else. And the food was always good, from the turkey down to the cut veggies and dip, crescent rolls and dessert. The house seemed to be sweating from about 10 a.m. on. Thanksgiving day. Dinner was usually served around 1 p.m. or so. The television would always be on. Macy's Thanksgiving parade, then whatever else. It was mainly background noise, and later on, it would be turned to the A Christmas Story marathon.

In later years, we would have Thanksgiving at my brother and sister in law's house. They had a bigger house, so there was more room. The food wasn't as good, and the house didn't seem to sweat, because the thermostat was at an arctic (to me at least) 68 degrees. Dad was from the tropics, so it was always warm in the winter at our house. When my brother had to pay heating bills, he finally understood why dad got so pissed when he would crank up the thermostat to 85 degrees. It was bad enough to have a son who wore nothing but Fruit of the Looms around the house all year round, but to pay for the heat so he would be comfy? That was the final straw, and I remember the yearly battle of the thermostat all too well.

I also remember my niece saying Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday. I thought that was odd, coming from a young girl. Turns out the reason why it was her favorite was the abundance of food, which made me wonder what my sister in law fed her family the rest of the year. My niece is doing some modeling in Los Angeles, so apparently, not much.

I remember mild Thanksgivings where Daphne was walked in 60 degree weather. I also remember Thanksgiving nights at the Memorial Coliseum, watching a hockey game, with no thought of getting up at 5 a.m. to shop the next morning.

I also remember my first Thanksgiving with my boyfriend. A first meal out in the country, with horses and dogs and ducks and geese, dining on a turkey that had been raised and killed, right at the farm. Then a meal at his grandmother's house, the other side of his family. Then, a stop at my brother's. That seemed like one of the best Thanksgivings of the past few years; the only one that really seemed right.

Then, there was the Thanksgiving before I had my hysterectomy. I was eating with my boyfriend's family once again, and the subject of healthcare came up. Their solution? “Just don't get sick.” I thought about telling them about the tumor that had been growing since God knows when in my uterus. I thought about telling them how much pain I was in. I thought about telling them how I had to put off getting treatment, because I hadn't had good insurance, until I got a job that offered it. But I said nothing. I wanted to tell them how miserable I'd been for the past few weeks, but I didn't. They wouldn't have cared anyway. As much as you probably don't believe me, I didn't ask to develop a tumor. I am thankful it wasn't malignant. If it had been, I wouldn't be here.

Even though I don't have a family anymore, I still do not want to work on Thanksgiving, nor do I want my fellow retail workers to have to work on Thanksgiving. Because it really is the beginning of the end. First Thanksgiving, then Christmas. Because even though you may be alone, it's nice to enjoy a meal either at home, or at a restaurant. To just relax and be thankful for what you have. I look back at my Thanksgiving memories and feel bittersweet. Thankful because I had the experience, sad because that is a part of my life I will never get back again. And I don't ever want to trade those memories for a $9.99 DVD player or a 96 cent Samsung Galaxy SIII. Why? Because those memories are sacred, and will last a hell of a lot longer than those Black Thanksgiving deals.

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.