I think Americans have the whole Thanksgiving thing backwards.
We are really thankful one day a year and spend the other 364 days complaining and whining about just about everything from the government to the weather to health care to bosses, relatives, neighbors, our favorite sports teams and just about everything else. What we really should do is have one “Unthankful Day” when we get it all out of our system and do nothing but complain all day long. They could televise the Tampa Bay Buccs vs. the Cleveland Browns football game, close all the stores and gas stations and play nothing but Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber on the radio and old reruns of presidential debates on the TV stations that aren’t showing the Browns. Really give us something to complain about! Then we could spend the other 364 days being thankful.
Having said that, I also have to say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What could be better than sitting around all day with your family and eating lots of food? Well, maybe not always the sitting around part … let me explain.
This year was a different kind of Thanksgiving. My wife had a full week off from school and a change for a cheap plane ticket to Denver, so off she went to see our grandchildren (and incidentally, their parents) for Thanksgiving. That meant Thanksgiving was going to be my two sons and me.
A bachelor Thanksgiving!
I turned down kind invitations from my in-laws and some friends because I had something else in mind.
I called my sons and told them this Thanksgiving we were going to have steak on the grill. They were all for this. Then I told them we also would have mashed potatoes and corn and rolls and Jell-O and pumpkin pie and the ultimate Thanksgiving drink, Jarritos (hey, Mexicans are thankful people, too). They were all for this, too.
Then I told them we would eat as soon as we finished repairing the garden wall in the back yard.
Much to their credit, neither of them said anything about how they never have to work for food when their mother is around (at least, not where I could hear them, anyway).
I asked them, would you really rather be inside watching football or playing a computer game on a nice day when we could all be outside, working and bonding together? I don’t think either of them responded to this question.
But on Thursday, they arrived ready for work.
My oldest son has done this kind of thing before, so he was the foreman. And the brawn.
My youngest son was the brains and the quality control manager. And the brawn.
I bought the steaks.
I had the wall torn down before they arrived, and once they got started things went quickly. We picked up big rocks and mixed mortar and generally looked like we knew what we were doing.
I had all the stones laid out just like an archaeological site, only I guess I should have numbered them. After a while as we reconstructed the wall we started to have questions about which stone actually was supposed to go where.
The foreman and the brains lined things up one way, then another. Things were at an impasse when the quality control manager said, “Oh well, it will all work out. Let’s just put this one here.”
I’m not sure that is textbook quality control, but you know what? Things did work out. All the stones that came down went back up, only this time in a straight row and firmly attached to each other with about a ton of mortar. It didn’t look exactly like the original, but since the original was falling down maybe this is a good thing.
You can imagine how good I felt when we put the last stone on the wall. Then one of my sons said, “There we go, we’re finished. We’ll give you a three-hour warranty.”
By then, it was time to eat and I didn’t really care. I fired up the grill, the boys took care of the side dishes — all purchased and ready to heat up, not made from scratch, since you can’t expect bachelors to mix mortar and mash potatoes on the same day. We might get them mixed up, which would be bad for us and even worse for the wall.
By the time we finished off the pumpkin pie, we were tired, happy and content. And thankful. I was thankful the wall was still standing. The boys said they were thankful the work was over.
They also said they hope their mother stays home next Thanksgiving. I wonder why.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.