Sunday, November 12, 2006

Memory Lane

Back in the early 1990's, when I lived in south Florida, I wrote several dozen Op Ed type articles of various lengths for a local newspaper. Last night, for reasons unknown, I took a little walk down memory lane and re-read those articles. All of them, God help me.

Most of them were so-so, some were truly awful, and a handful were pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. At least half of them were extremely political and I am somewhat in awe of the woman who wrote them with no apparent fear of reprisal. There were even a couple that generated letters of thanks from various members of the community, which I had saved as well.

But all of the articles, good and bad, made me smile just a little. There is just something about the remembered feeling of seeing your name and picture in the local paper, accompanied by your very own words. It did make me wonder, though, whether in a dozen years I will look back on these blog entries and say: most of them were so-so, some were truly awful, and a handful were pretty damn good.

Since I'm currently suffering miserably from the feverish, aching, coughing, congested head cold from hell and feeling more than a little uninspired [read: lazy], here is one of the articles, published 12-4-93, that still makes me smile. I did not write the headline.

I should note that the then-teenaged daughter of the friend about whom I wrote was outraged by the article, and vehemently defended her mother's culinary choices. Just so you know, I've already been raked over those coals. My dear friend, who also wore the hats of talented writer and merciless mentor, thought it was outrageously funny and told her daughter to lighten up. Even though we exchange cards and family news once a year, I miss her. And I think about her every Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving's not the same without turkey


I have a friend who is a vegetarian, which was the cause of speculation this past week. What does she eat at Thanksgiving? No turkey means there's no gravy and, therefore, not much point in mashed potatoes or dressing. What is left of the traditional feast? Rolls and cranberries?


I thought of her while making room in my fridge for my own turkey, which thawed as slowly as April snow in Minnesota.


And while I cleaned it, a process more difficult than bathing the dog.


And while explaining to my curious children its various internal parts.


And again, when I needed help removing the thing from my oven, as it weighed more than the combined birth weights of both my children.


And the next day, during painstaking hours spent removing leftover meat from the bones.


I thought of her all weekend, while eating countless turkey sandwiches, and found I had discovered two new reasons to give thanks.


First, that the pilgrims did not have a side of beef for their celebration. And second, for this one day, in spite of the mess, I am thankful that I am NOT a vegetarian. At least not yet.


Ok, I have to admit this is not a verbatim copy of what was published. I added back in five words that were deleted from the final copy due to word limit constraints. Hey, it’s my blog, I set the limits here. The article as posted above is 195 words. That's hard to do. Don't believe me? You try it. Really.

Write an article and post it in the comments, 200 words or less, telling me something about your Thanksgiving celebration -- the best, the worst, the one you’re planning for this year. Who knows? In a dozen years or so, you might look back, read it and decide it was pretty damn good. Or it might just make you smile.

And no cheating. I will count.

Ahem. I heard that. I'll have you know I am much more proficient at counting words than heads.

5 comments:

Mary said...

I have no plans to do nothin’ this Thanksgiving. Everyone wants me to go somewhere different. My mother wants me to come home (only a 10 hour drive, what’s the problem?)
My friend wants me to go on a tour of the local wineries, which from the sound of it would also turn out to be a 10 hour drive.
My former boss, a very abrupt, plain spoken man who made most of his employees quiver in fear, spent last Thanksgiving working in a homeless shelter. That strikes me as worthwhile, no guilt, no hangovers, no indigestion.
I certainly like the idea of going vegetarian on Thanksgiving, or at least sending out for pizza. I loathe the idea of having to deal with all the tedium involved in the thawing, stuffing, cooking of the damn bird. Could be worse. When my father shocked his family by bringing home a Yankee bride, my grandmother said “Oh, she can cook Thanksgiving dinner for us all.” Grandma was Old School. My mother was expecting her to bring over a frozen turkey, but Grandma showed up with a whole bird, feathers and all, plopped it down on the kitchen table, and told her to start plucking. My thought is that it’s lucky that she wrung its neck before bringing it over. If I had to go out and kill my own food, I’d be very tempted to go vegetarian. I can kill a Tofu with no qualms.

250 words. With nary a single chirp.

Mary said...

What, you expected me to follow your directions EXACTLY? Where's the fun in that?

Jen-t said...

Ever have Thanksgiving at a hockey rink? We actually do Thanksgiving at home, briefly on Thrusday, then head to somewhere because one of our three kids is playing in a hockey tournament. This year it's Niagara Falls with the youngest child. Gotta love hockey!

orangehands said...

i notice you seem to give a lot of assignments on your blog. :)

Lori said...

This took me a while because I had to appease the people who are paid to make me write first.


When Size Really Doesn’t Matter
(Hey you, over there in the corner…I’m talking about Thanksgiving here.)

It started as a quaint gathering, just two families meeting around a table full of turkey. It wouldn’t stay that way long. Through the years, we added families, friends, and the occasional stranger.

As the number of people grew so did the turkey.

Living room furniture was moved into the bedroom to make way for the crowd. We doubled and tripled recipes to feed the masses, which resulted in some major messes and a rule never to allow regrets into our gathering--not even that time the stuffing was more of a stew.

Living without regrets doesn’t keep life from moving forward and people moving with it. Many of those who gave thanks with us in the past have started their own quaint gatherings across the United States, and the group that remains to offer thanks this year fits back around the original dinning room table.

Through the changes, we’ve learned size doesn’t matter. Our gatherings are simply about being thankful for those around you.