Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving: 30 years and onward

November 24, 1983.

Very heavy wind and rain going on outside that dark Thanksgiving morning. The trees were blowing at some scary angles, and it was a sure bet that the power would be going out at any given moment. Not the best time to do that, as Dad was just starting up Thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen. This day was going to be a little different, as this was the first major holiday since the divorce in the family had occurred some eight months before; my mom and sister weren't there, and weren't going to be. I was just sitting in the living room, listening to the radio, waiting for "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" to be played when the next thing we know....POFF! The power went out. Completely. And it wasn't going to come back on anytime soon.

A couple of neighbors came by to see if ours had gone out as well (and were at the ready to ask if they could cook their stuff in our oven if it was working). Grandma was supposed to come over that day for Thanksgiving, but we ended up having to box up everything and take it over there to finish cooking.

Oh, and did I mention that I was sick that morning? Something I'd eaten for lunch the day before at school did not agree with me, I woke up with a mild case of food poisoning, and I was busy spewing out of both ends, ever since I'd woken up. I didn't eat much that day for dinner, and everyone else probably thought that I was just being a pain in the ass.

Later on that afternoon, after it was all over and we finally got home, I went upstairs to my room and snapped on Sesame Street, just for something to watch as I lay there in not such a great shape. This was the now-legendary episode where Mr. Hooper had died, and the gang is trying to explain the concept of death to Big Bird. Very, very depressing, and not quite the way to end an already trying day.

Thanksgiving seemed to be under a sort of unspoken curse for us after that, with each one worst than the last one. In 1985, we had a major snowstorm that threatened to knock out the power again, but (mercifully) nothing happened. The year after that, our little dog Pepper got out of the backyard, dashed into traffic onto J Street, got hit by a car, and that was the end of her. And then, the following year in 1987, two weeks before the holiday itself, my uncle Pat committed suicide by jumping off of the 34th Street bridge.

Well, after that happened, Thanksgiving was just another go-through-the-motions sort of holiday that we merely tolerated until it was out of sight and out of mind. Dad once said as much one year, and I was glad that it wasn't just me who felt that way about it. He was tired of turkey, after years of cooking them on a daily basis at such restaurants as the Hob-Nob and Knapp's, and so we'd have roast beef, ham, or chicken for dinner.

For the longest time, nothing bad had happened until the day was over and done with for another year. But then on November 22nd of 2010, four days before Thanksgiving came, Dad went into cardiac arrythmia, and had to be rushed to the hospital. It had snowed that day, making things that little more difficult, and also reminding me of that long-ago Thanksgiving with the snow on the ground. Despite some initial hope that he would pull through, he never did, and he left this world 15 days later.

But, it's not really all that bad. I remember throughout the 1980s, KSTW-11 used to show The Muppet Movie on Thanksgiving Day, and the day never felt complete without watching it. It held a special place for me, as it was the first movie I ever saw on the big screen in 1979 at the Roxy Theater (later to be the Pantages Theater), something I remember with fondness. So, by putting this on, all the other stuff gets forgotten about, and the day seems so much brighter.

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