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Just A Thought Thanksgiving Now And Then
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Though it has recently passed for this year, Thanksgiving is a time for us to appreciate our lives here in America and the freedoms we have had since its beginning. Among the first Thanksgivings that I remember was when my stepfather decided to cook the holiday feast. With a group of men, he hunted a wild turkey for our dinner. Upon arriving home, my sister and I had the chore of plucking the feathers from the trophy catch. While sampling the cooking wine, my stepfather continued to prepare the dinner. After the bird was finished with its preparations, he made the stuffing, but when he stuffed the bird he failed to remove the stones in the wild turkey gullet. The gravy unfortunately was made with powdered sugar instead of flour. As we ate the dinner, we were surprised at the strange flavor of the gravy and what we encountered when we bit into the dressing. Needless to say, it made for a very memorable Thanksgiving.

Later on as my family grew and included grandchildren one Thanksgiving found us in a gold mining town. We enjoyed an old fashioned dinner at a historic restaurant and then toured one of the old gold mining sights. The kids tried their hand at gold panning. One year, wanting something different for the holiday, we all rented a house at Santa Cruz. While my husband was waiting for all of the family to arrive he hauled our luggage into the house. As my daughter and her family drove up, he was attempting to take in the last piece and missed the step and ended up in the bushes. After making sure that he was okay, all of us got a big laugh out of the fact that his hair was covered with leaves. He then was our Thanksgiving decoration.

A few Thanksgivings found us at our son's home in the bay area. The weather in that area is comfortable to them but for all of us used to a warmer climate, our teeth chattered in their unheated home. Many of us wore our jackets throughout the day. Looking at us as if we were crazy, our son didn't comment but wrote it off as 'yes, they are crazy!' This year, 19 of us rented a beach house at Pajaro Dunes and risked the chance of family overload. The first day it sprinkled threatening us with the possibility of a four day vacation with all of us in one house eventually wanting to kill each other. Much to our delight, however, someone had mercy on our sanity and gave us sunny weather that was always in the seventies. Everyone spent most of their time at the beach and the kids even donned bathing suits. Our three-year-old great-grandson spent most of each day digging with his cousins in a hole that ended big enough for them to totally fit into. His continued determination to reach an unknown goal fascinated all of us. At the time, I had a bad cold and spent a good part of the time in the house. Fortunately there were large windows that allowed all of us seniors to still enjoy the family on the beach if we didn't go out. By the last day, I felt much better and spent a good part of the sunny warmth in a beach chair enjoying the ocean breeze. We took a wheelchair due to my arthritic knees for the longer walks and in the evening at one point when my 25-five-year old grandson was bored, he entertained us with his talents at popping wheelies in the chair. His tricks were amazing, and possibly a new Olympic sport.

Evenings at the house became family game tournaments from catch phrase to sequence, everyone excelled at competing to their best ability. All in all the traditional dinner prepared by many was enjoyed and scarfed down by something that resembled wolverines. Compliments to the chefs.

Family dynamics sometimes include drama, humor, antics, and just plain fun. But I have to admit every moment is special and I wouldn't miss it for the world!

Sheila Arellano is a retired reporter for The Escalon Times and a longtime local resident. She continues to contribute occasional columns.