To begin with, I am thankful that I have memories, and even memory at all. Because the gift (or the mere existence) of consciousness, and life itself, is precious and valuable. Precious, and valuable. I do not mean to be redundant, but rather syncretic, for the tangible and intangible jewels of memory and life are multifaceted and so most precious and valuable in and for, oh, so very, very many ways and means. No matter whether you believe in creation or evolution, or both, or neither; life is, almost always, worthy of being and becoming thankful therefor and wherefor.
Even if you think I spell it wrong.
I am grateful to have such a long life of memories of the great American harvest holiday, Thanksgiving. Memories of gathering when I was a child with my brother and parents and our cousins and aunt and uncle and my grandmother – sometimes both grandmothers. We would trade houses most years, one year at my aunt’s and uncle’s either on Resmar Road or Dickey Drive, the other year at our home on Lemon Avenue or Woodland Drive, out there in the suburban hills of La Mesa, near unto Mount Helix on the eastern fringes of San Diego, California. In later years, after I got my driver’s license, I would often be sent into the “big city” to pick up my grandmother at her home in North Park. Sometimes I would sing to myself, over the freeway and through the streets to grandmother’s house we go, the dog knows the way to bark at the sleigh and bring her home to eat ho ho.
Down along freeway 94, then north up Wabash to Nile Street exit – an off-ramp which no longer exists – and a quick ten or twelve block slip and slide along Thorn street to 31st, to the house where my mother and aunt had grown up, and my grandmother still lived for many years later… but that is another story I shall not tell here. Suffice to say that both my older-than-I cousins married and each had a daughter and so we held more at the table.
Time passed, as it always does, and my father, as it turned out, was the first to pass away from the usual Thanksgiving feast crowd. I was twenty-seven that autumn. A year later my mother remarried and we began a new custom of sometimes (not always, not yet) going to the home of my stepsister and her husband, first down in National City and then later even farther out into the east county houses of Jamul. But as I said, not every year, no, for often the new family along with the old, would gather – all twenty something of us, now – far out in the desert at Borrego Springs, where my aunt and uncle had moved in their retirement, and my mother had also bought a modular trailer-home in the same park, called – very picturesquely – the Roadrunner club.
Once – or perhaps more than once – we even had the holiday dinner in the Cuyamaca (or Palomar) mountains, with the cooking focussed around the galley of my stepfather’s beloved motor home. Now that was an adventure I am glad I have not forgotten.