Tomorrow is the traditional day to eat more than you should, watch football and try not to get on your relatives’ nerves.
Oh, and I think there’s also supposed to be something about giving thanks.
My wife’s grandmother used to hold us to that particular tradition. When we gathered ’round the table, she’d have everyone say a few words about what exactly they were thankful for, with the most-quoted answer having much to do with “our family.”
I usually gave thanks that everyone in the family was experiencing relatively good health and hoped that continued.
Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works.
Ten years ago marked the final Thanksgiving that Alice Davis, my mother-in-law’s mother, was able to join us. She was a few weeks shy of her 89th birthday and had been on the decline for a while.
We gathered in our usual spot, at Wright’s Seafood Inn in Heidelberg, the restaurant Alice’s grandfather opened in 1898. The “thanks” talk went around the table, and I’m pretty sure everyone said how glad they were to have Grandma Davis be a part of the proceedings.
She died the following April. And the year after that, Wright’s closed in the wake the floods caused by Hurricane Ivan, never to reopen under her family’s ownership.
Our tableside tales of thankfulness have kind of tailed off since. But perhaps it’s time for us to revisit the concept.
I’ll give us a head start here, starting with Mrs. Funk’s mom and dad. Sure, sometimes there’s a bit of that mother-in-law tension occasionally, but never anything along the lines of Ralph Kramden vs. Mrs. Gibson on old episodes of “The Honeymooners.”
(Ralph: “This place isn’t big enough for you and me.” Mrs. Gibson: “This place isn’t big enough for you and anybody!”)
OK, then … I certainly am thankful that I’m part of my wife’s family. Her parents are compassionate people with strong values, and that also goes for her sister, brother, brother-in-law and nephews.
I’m thankful my own mother and father still are going relatively strong, too. They’re traveling to spend Thanksgiving with relatives in Virginia, but their usual trip to come here for Christmas is marked on the calendar.
My brother lives near Los Angeles, and while I don’t see him personally all that often – I’ve never traveled that far west – we’ll chat on the phone enough to keep somewhat current on what each of us is up to. He has a son with his own family down in Florida, and that’s another place I’d certainly like to visit.
Cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews: Plenty of them are out there. Some are in better health than others, of course, but for the most part they’re doing fairly well.
And that’s something for which I give a whole lot of thanks, even if I’m not announcing it at the dinner table.
Harry Funk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.