It is difficult to see that maybe the traditions of Thanksgiving are being squeezed out by the consumerism in America. Could it be that most of America is planning the shopping strategy that begins at midnight rather than helping to peel the potatoes and baste the turkey? Are people really sitting with their plates on their laps so their football game will not be interrupted? Has Thanksgiving ceased to be an all day family affair but rather something that you pop in for an hour to do? This special day was set aside to give thanks for our blessings to God and enjoy the simple bounty of family and good food right in the middle of the civil war. (Thanks Abraham Lincoln) If a war could cease for one day can’t our consumerism? Perhaps our consumerism is as much a plague to our society that slavery was years ago.
In our home we protect and fight for the pleasures of traditional Thanksgiving as family. The kitchen begins to smell good the day before and goes all through the next day. Mama makes sure everyone’s favorite dish is on the menu, even though that meant there were ten dishes of food. I wasn’t planning on doing the sweet potato soufflé this year, but when Donny came through the door and asked to make sure it was on the menu, we went to the store. When I informed Craig I was cutting the bacon off the top of the green beans for health and workload reasons, he high tailed it to the store for bacon at around one p.m. and there was crispy bacon on top of the green beans when the turkey was being carved at four p.m. Two days of cooking, twenty minutes of eating, push back, unbutton the top trouser clasp, and that’s when the real thanksgiving is done.
So Jack reminded us, “hey, we have to go around and say what we are thankful for this year”. So we took our turns, and it always brings up a tear to hear the hearts of my children. When it came to my dad’s turn he choked with tears because he was thankful to be with us, and also because they visited an old man in a poor neighborhood that day to give him sacks of food and a hot thanksgiving meal. (I was on baby and kitchen duty) Mr. Travino was so happy to meet new friends and have a nice meal. A church we visited began a nonprofit to help a poor neighborhood of elderly people, so we signed up for Mr. Travino. We will begin to visit him at least once a month and try and develop a relationship with him. (Everyone knows my weakness for adopting anyone). It is a good feeling to reach out to our community and connect with those who have greater needs than ours. Mr. Rogers was right, sharing with our neighbor is good.
It kills me to see my dad cry. He’s a sweet sensitive man and I just love it that he so enjoys being with us. To lift the spirit at the table Craig explained our next ambition to be helpful. Thanks to Pastor Alex Kennedy we borrowed the idea to give everyone at the table fifty dollars to use it in a secret way to help someone else and then report about it on Christmas Eve. Cheers went around the table. I could see everyone thinking carefully about what they could do. It was fantastic. I look forward to these stories on Christmas Eve. (this is an idea I hope will multiply and spread across families…)
Somehow I corralled the whole group to take a walk before starting the dishes. The weather was a perfect 74 degrees, clear sunny sky with a gentle breeze. Craig and the boys played football all the way around the block. Dad and Audrey held hands. Kira and I each had a leash attached to Lucy. It was my favorite memory of the day. Back at home the four boys ceased to be the LaTorre boys and temporarily became the dish washing Veggie Tales singing quartet. It was high entertainment for all.
For today, black Friday, I boycott shopping. I won’t do it. After I take a riding lesson while everyone else goes to the gym, we’ll head down to the Riverwalk and enjoy the fun and festivities there of the Christmas tree lighting. I also suspect we’ll have a little roundabout of cheers in our family and pass out some kisses on Kira’s chubby cheeks because it was last year on Black Friday when we got the call for our court date in Uganda. It was the end of the long hard wait. I’ll never forget the energy that coursed through us that day. We went from feeling sorry for ourselves to slamming into high gear. Those were indeed special times, so today feels like a LaTorre holiday worthy of special recognition: the day we got our court date. I could then begin to count the hours before we could get our hands on little baby Kira.
I should close, but I have to mention Kira’s reaction to her first Thanksgiving meal. She’s a good eater, and loves food so we thought she’d entertain us with “mmm..mmm…goods” all through the meal. But she got a taste of sparkling apple cider and then forget it I couldn’t get a morsel of food in her mouth. To be able to eat my own meal, I let her play with her open cup of cider, all hands in and finger licking good. That ended when she spilled it on daddy’s leg. Maybe she’ll gobble up the leftovers today. Who can deny the goodness of sweet potato soufflé? Not even an almost two year old.