Thanksgiving…in the 1980s

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!  Think of it, one day set aside just to express gratitude. To me it’s always been a golden day.  November may be the darkest, gloomiest month of the year but memories of Thanksgivings past shine brightly.

And what great Thanksgivings they’ve been!  The busy family years with construction paper decor and Pilgrim hats; the many festive tables surrounded by family and friends;  and always the TURKEY golden and fragrant, the foundation of our feasts.  No ham, roasts or Tofurky on our table, just the savory bird browned and ready for the carving knife.

Retirement brought us a new lifestyle and our travels took us to Mexico one year with the prospect of spending our uniquely American holiday among strangers in the lovely old coastal city of Mazatlan.  Our daughter and son-in-law flew down to join us over their holiday break and we were delighted to come across a beach-side restaurant advertising  “Un  Gran Fiesta Norte-Americano”  planned for our very day of thanks!  Reservations were made, and we wondered what a Mexican Thanksgiving would be like.  Turkeys were a rarity there but we were looking forward to being together and planned to enjoy whatever might come.

The day itself, my favorite golden Thanksgiving Day,  found us trapped inside a damp RV after several days of heavy rain, hubcap deep in muddy water.  Electrical current went out about mid-morning, to add to the general feeling of gloom.  We thought about our reservations at the restaurant for “The Grand North-American Party,” no doubt doomed by now.

Finally, needing to make something happen, we rolled up pants legs, grabbed flip-flops and flashlights and  sloshed up the street.   Daylight was fading fast on a day that had never really gotten bright.

Surprisingly, our restaurant was glowing with candles and lamp-light, ranchero music pounding away.  We waded toward the entrance, passing the open kitchen on our way.

What a sight!  The chefs inside were slicing, stirring and carving as they laughed and chattered.  Were those turkeys?  Yes!!  and each of the cheerful workers had a flashlight tucked between chin and shoulder to help them see as they worked.  Amazed at their clever ingenuity, we watched for several minutes, quite impressed, before going on into the building.

We were drawn into a room full of party goers like moths to a flame and we all joined in.   The food was wonderful, especially the turkey.  The flood waters began to recede and when the feasting ended, employees and guests alike danced the night away.

Holidays are what you make of them; being surrounded by cheerful, welcoming strangers willing to make their North American guests feel at home was a true blessing.  As my favorite golden holiday rolls around again, what am I most thankful for?  Memories of friends, old and new, and loved ones I’ve celebrated with over the years, of course.

…..and Oh Yes,  deep gratitude that someone else now gets up at the crack of dawn to stuff the bird and get the pies in the oven;  not to mention coping with the disaster in the kitchen after the fun has passed.

And I might add a POX on whoever dreamed up  “green bean casserole.”  May they be fated to eat Tofurky for all their Thanksgivings to come.

I say “Pass The Gravy!”


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