Our Other Thanksgiving

Dad and I have been trying to figure out when we began to celebrate the other Thanksgiving and who initiated it. What we do recall is that it evolved from a conversation with a few of Dad’s friends  about how much we all enjoyed Thanksgiving, but since it is typically a family holiday, we would never be able to celebrate turkey day with our friends. But why couldn’t we just choose an earlier day in October or November and then gather with our friends and create a second Thanksgiving? Why not?

Thus began a new tradition.  Sometime between 1978 and 1980, we picked a date and a venue and doled out menu assignments. I believe the first celebration was at Steve and Donna’s apartment. You may not know, but Steve and Dad have been friends since third grade. That friendship has lasted as long as mine with Karen—55 years. That alone is cause for a celebration!

The original gathering was small. There were only six of us—Steve and Donna, Mickey and Ivonne, Dad and me. No children, just three old friends and their wives. I believe, though, that I was the odd person out since everyone but I grew up in Yonkers. But as you know, they are all great friends and I always felt like I was part of the gang rather than the new kid on the block.

We each contributed something from our own family traditions. I remember that the most unique dish was when Ivonne hosted dinner and we had a Cuban turkey, which much to Dad’s delight, meant a spiced turkey stuffed with peppers and onions.

Somewhere along the line, Dave married Barbara and they were added to this other Thanksgiving feast as were Billy and Robin. Each year, we alternated houses, and as the babies came, the number of seats at the table increased. I think, in the end, we had somewhere around twenty-ish.

When we moved to New Jersey, the dinners ended up at our house most of the time—over the river and through the woods to our house they came! Sadly, once we moved to the South, the dinners ended. As far as I know, no one continued the tradition. But for twenty-five years, we always had our special dinners.

We have kept in touch and have gotten together just a few times in New York. The last time was at Jamie’s wedding last year. I am sad to have seen this wonderfully special and unique tradition end. What is more amazing than the number of years we had these celebrations is the fact that among these five couples, there has not been a single divorce. That is so rare today. The only marriage not intact is because of death, not divorce.

Every year I think of those dinners. I miss them and cannot believe we did not take a single picture.

 

We All Lose Things- Part II

I thought I would die a Jersey girl because as you all know, very few of our relatives ever leave the Garden State. But life is full of surprises and we eventually did leave the state.

Over a span of four years, we did a mini tour of the Southeast, beginning in North Carolina, moving on to Georgia, and finally settling in South Carolina where I became a South Carolina Gamecock fan. I now tailgate, try so very hard to win the family football pool, and even read the sports column. Girls, did you ever imagine I would evolve into this?

Our football stadium is quite large, with a seating capacity just north of 80,000. After one typically exciting afternoon at a game, I was walking across the adjacent fairgrounds when I became aware of that familiar, oh so awful sharpness on my left ring finger. I felt a pit in my stomach and knew I had to act quickly. When I told Dad that I had lost another diamond and had to go back and look for it, he looked at me like I was crazy. No, no, no, I was not a lunatic. I was confident. I had a proven track record regarding locating lost diamonds. And Dad did not argue, yell, or refuse to accompany me. That is why our marriage has survived since 1978. It takes patience and the ability to understand the quirkiness of one’s spouse for a marriage to endure. And laughter!

My plan was to go to the Lost and Found. After all, I reasoned, the news is filled with heartwarming stories involving honest people. However, walking into the stadium was like swimming against a strong current. No one was headed inside and no one knew where the Lost and Found was located.

Dad was being incredibly patient as I insisted that we push onward. After walking around aimlessly for quite a while, I knew he was ready to throw in the towel, but not me. I had faith, so I suggested we retrace our steps. The last place I had gone after leaving our seats was the bathroom. Was I crazy, or was I being logical?

What was there to lose, so we headed up the ramp to the restrooms? By this time, it had been at least thirty minutes since leaving the stadium, but I was relentless. This gift of being able to find lost diamonds was, I knew, part of my heritage.  Let me digress.

My great grandmother, Mina, also had the gift. While visiting a department store in New York City, she also lost the diamond from her ring. When she realized it was gone, she hunted and hunted for it with no success.

Mina was a very religious woman, so she left the store and went to a nearby church and prayed that she would locate the stone. She then returned to the store, and sure enough, her prayers had been answered. When she later discovered that the church was Episcopalian rather than Catholic, she commented that the denomination did not matter. God listened no matter what church you prayed in.

Back to my story. I returned to the bathroom and headed first to the sink where I had washed my hands. The room was empty by now, and I knew this was probably my last hope. I knew I had to look, but at the same time, I was afraid. Could I possibly be lucky a third time? Yes, I could, I reasoned, and I was correct. There, on the edge of the bowl of that sink of Williams Brice Stadium was my formerly lost diamond. Holy cow! I did it again. I was now three for three in locating lost diamonds, but this time, it had vanished in the biggest haystack yet! I grabbed the diamond, wrapped it ever so carefully in a tissue, and smugly exited the bathroom.

On the way back to the car, I told Dad we should buy a lottery ticket.