Thanksgiving is Tomorrow

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.

I know what a news flash!

I am glad to inform!

I love Thanksgiving for one big reason. I get to make an utter pig of myself and it’s acceptable. I get to eat till my belt explodes and people still pass me more potatoes. Does it get any better?

I have been told I have an eating problem. I agree! My problem is – society no longer appreciates what my Mother called a “good eater”.

I was raised in an era when we had to “clean” our plates because a Chinese kid was starving. I never really understood the logic but I did understand, if I didn’t eat everything I put on my plate, I wasn’t allowed to leave the table.

Since I always sat to the right of my father, this sometimes presented a problem. My Dad was a Chef. Not one of these pretend, backyard chefs. Not one of these – I watch the Food Network therefore I am chef -men. My father was a real life, hundreds of employees, feed thousands a day, make 150 gallons of soup, while roasting twenty prime ribs (rib eyes) Chefs. The kind of Chef who wears a two foot hat at work.

This all made for some very good food the one day a year he decided to cook at home. Unfortunately the other 364 days my Mom cooked, my Dad filled my plate. My dad liked to see his family eat.

Imagine our average dinner table in 1967. It’s filled with blackened fried potatoes, long before it was fashionable to eat burnt food. A stack of over cooked mackerel cakes (what is really in a mackerel cake?) and a vegetable or two. My dad at the head of the table. My oldest brother, John, by eleven years on the other end of the table. My next oldest brother, Dennis, by nine years, to his right and my Mom to Dennis’ right. Remember I always sat to the right of my Father. Next to me was Billy. Billy is older than me by seven years. Joe, my younger brother by two years, sat between Mom and Dennis.

When we were kids, Joe and I were on the small side of average. The other three, John, Dennis and Billy, were slightly larger than the front line of the World Champion Green Bay Packers.

It is obvious to me, now that I look back, my father didn’t care I wasn’t a giant like my brothers. My Dad would put the same amount of food on my plate as my brothers put on theirs. He never played favorites with food. Lucky for me, the first twenty years of my life I had the metabolism of a humming bird.

Too bad I am now twenty-eight years past that point.

So only once a year I sit at a table and eat till my over filled plate is “clean”.

I fill it with roasted turkey. I pile on the mashed potatoes. I find room for heaps of stuffing. I squeeze a vegetable onto the plate. I cover it all in real, not canned, gravy. Then, like shampoo, I repeat.

Do I do this because I am starving? No, even if I don’t stuff myself daily any longer, I still get plenty to eat.

I do this because, with my sons surrounding me, it reminds me of 1967.

In this part of my life it is hard to get all my sons to one table at the same time but it is impossible to get my 1967 family here.

My parents have been gone for six years. My five brothers (we added Vince in 1972) and I have spread across America like dandelions in the wind. I last had dinner with Joe at a NASCAR race in 2006,Vince in 2002 right before the funerals of Mom and Dad, Dennis and Billy when they visited in the Spring of 2006.

John and I ate together last year at his house in Massachusetts.

Tomorrow when I sit down, I will be with my sons, TJ, Chris, John and James but forgive me, if for a moment, I wish it was my brothers.

Not John – the mortgage banker, nor Dennis – the wild one, turned father, not Bill – the Chef, not Joe -the computer guru or Vince – with the college degree.

Just my brothers – fighting over the last turkey leg – while Dad fills my plate again, with his version of love and Mom starts to cut the pie.

My Thanksgiving will be a good one, even in these hard times, but one year soon, if the brothers wanted to come for dinner, I would gladly cook another Turkey and maybe a ham or two.

Because I may not say it out loud, but like my Mom and Dad, I would feed them till they hurt and they would understand.

In our family love is expressed though food.

As you can tell from our belt sizes we are a very loving family.

This is especially true on Thanksgiving!

J Pat

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