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I used to spend Thanksgiving with one family member or another — flying to Washington, D.C., or driving to our family house in the Chicago suburbs. It was hard for all of us to get together with 10 children splashed across North America from California to Canada, from the Midwest to the East Coast. But there were usually gatherings of three or four of us on Thanksgiving which made for a satisfying experience.
But the last decade, that hasn’t been the case. The Chicago suburban house was sold years ago after my mother died. And usually, I was working or too involved in a project to take the time. I regret those missed opportunities — especially now that travel is physically difficult for me.
But I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me. The long skein of memories of Thanksgivings past is more than enough to fill me up with joy and be thankful for what I have in the here and now.
Those cherished memories led me to write of the 10 reasons why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’m sure you can add a few reasons of your own.
10. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Yeah, I know. Pretty pathetic, huh? Watching a parade on TV barely beats watching golf or curling.
But over the last 50 years, I may have missed the parade three times. It is pure Americana — a spectacle of culture and capitalism that is absolutely irresistible. Lorne Greene, who played Ben Cartwright on NBC’s long-running western Bonanza, co-hosted with the irrepressible Betty White, who never failed to be awestruck by the gigantic balloons of superheroes, cartoon characters, and literary icons, manned by 50 volunteers who were sometimes lucky not to get blown away when there was a stiff breeze. Today’s hosts — mostly talent from the Today show – are engaging but lack the charm and warmth of previous hosts.
Pop stars, Broadway’s finest, and even talent from the Met would stop in front of the NBC broadcast position and lip-sync their latest hit.
And yes, I still get excited when the parade concludes with Santa and his sleigh.
9. The start of a long weekend
When I was in school, Thanksgiving meant the longest weekend off of the year. Even as a young adult living in Washington, I was almost always able to wangle Friday after Thanksgiving off from my boss. It’s a nice break just before winter is beginning to sink his claws into you and the weather is still warm enough for outdoor activities.
Today, I’m not sure how many Americans take Friday off, but it’s a lot fewer than used to. Still, I’m sure the kids enjoy the extra time off from school.
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