Tom Stangl

Happy Thanksgiving to you. I hope you get to enjoy the company of friends and family over a meal and drama free conversation.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, beautiful in its simplicity and, in my opinion, an essential exercise for everyone to experience. Finding something to be grateful for is good for our mental health and family relationships. 

Even though 53% of those surveyed dreaded Thanksgiving dinner because politics might come up, a great meal with family and friends is worth it. And, let’s be honest, we can hear that embarrassing story about your childhood at least one time a year, right?

Whenever we get the first few hard freezes, my mind travels back to the Thanksgivings of my childhood. As early as I can remember, I always looked forward to Thanksgiving.

I was the fifth of six children in my family, so when I was 10, I had two siblings away from home. I noticed that my parents would get excited to have their entire family home again. I was glad to see my siblings, mainly because it pleased my parents.

We never travelled to extended family gatherings for Thanksgiving, so the weekend was a great time to catch up with cousins as well who were home for the same reason. Like many families, we would play pickup games of football or cards to give us more stories for future gatherings. The more embarrassing, the better.

When I left home, I was anxious to come home to be around family and recapture the feeling of being a child again. When you are away from home, there’s nothing quite like a short visit to help reconnect. And in some cases, a long weekend is plenty of time. What’s the saying about fish and relatives smelling after three days?

When I married and had children, I longed to have my own family Thanksgiving. With another family involved, I had a whole new group to meet and learn the embarrassing stories. You can never truly know too many embarrassing stories about family.

After the death of my parents, Thanksgiving became about my wife and children. We have been gathering for years and as our family has expanded with a marriage and grandchildren, each celebration brings another reason to be grateful.

Being on the other side of the child-parent dynamic, I can understand why my parents looked forward to having their children all together. I think we all want to recapture something from the past. 

I believe we want to look back because it’s easier to recall the past since the past is a known quantity. The future is unknown and we are unsure, but the past can be comforting, even if we change the way we remember events.

There’s nothing wrong with this thinking, as long as we recognize it for what it is and don’t make a habit out of living every day this way.

And, as Carly Simon sang in her 1971 hit song “Anticipation,” we should, at least for a few hours on Thanksgiving, “stay right here ‘cause these are the good old days.”

Enjoy the day. Be thankful, be kind and don’t be the person that eats the last dinner roll. No one likes that guy, even on Thanksgiving.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

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