Being Thankful for Thanksgiving
November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving is a great tradition in this country. You stop your daily grind, gather with loved ones, and whether out loud or not, reflect on the good things that have happened to you during the year, or just the good things about life itself. This year, though, the actual Thanksgiving happening in and of itself, was amazing, but also something that hopefully won't ever happen again.

I'm fortunate that my mother and I are invited to spend the holiday with my Uncle Marty, four cousins, their spouses and children, and others. Without even trying, there are at least 20 of us. It's the only time of the year I get to see most of them, and it's my favorite holiday of the year. Usually, my cousin Diane and her husband Wen Hai host, and we all gather at their house in LaVerne. That was not the case this year due to unfortunate circumstances.

About a week earlier, my uncle was home, and he fell. In addition to other health issues, he broke his hip. Surgery was done, he is rehabbing several times a day, but was still hospitalized on Thanksgiving. That's when my family sprang into action.

Even as the holiday week began, plans were being altered. The menu was probably the last thing on everyone's minds, but, with people still coming, you've got to eat. A nibble at the house and then a trip to the hospital seemed like a good plan. That turned into possible bringing a dish or two that could be shared at the hospital. As late as Tuesday, that seemed to be the plan, but things kept changing and growing.

With almost all of the nursing staff and others off on Thursday, my cousins commandeered the activity room, which not only could seat all of us, but had a sink, refrigerator, microwave, and plenty of counter space. There was even a TV to watch the football games!

My contribution was little to say the least, but by the time mom and I showed up not completely knowing what to expect, there were pies set out on the counter, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, bread, salad, jello (which mom makes), and Diane and Wen Hai got up real early and cooked two 18-pound turkeys! Most of which, of course, was devoured in a matter of minutes.

We weren't there long, and you completely forgot you were in a hospital (maybe Uncle Marty didn't). It had the usual Thanksgiving feel—everyone socializing and catching up on each other's lives, there always seems to be old pictures to look at, and all the other usual family stuff, and the football game on the tube, even though it's there mostly for the occasional update, but no one intently watching.

What was so special about this Thanksgiving, wasn't the food, but the love and extreme effort on all of my cousins' part to make the night as normal as any of the others. We ate a little earlier, and didn't have quite as much time to spend together as in other years, but to pull off something like this was truly spectacular.

Uncle Marty said it best even though he couldn't talk as loud as he normally would to address the whole room. In his toast, he said “All I'm thankful for I have right here.” As for me, I'm thankful that I get to be part of a family as special as this one. Get well soon, Uncle Marty.

Sports shorts: This is going to be a small mention, but could turn into a really big deal. Major League Baseball's labor agreement with the players expires at midnight on Wednesday, and while no one seems to be worried about it, the owners could actually institute a lockout if no deal is reached. A long one isn't likely, and both sides seemed fairly confident late last week that a deal would get done. Even if a work stoppage is a short one, it would be the first one since 1995, and would come on the heels of the Winter Meetings, where lots of trades and free agent signings usually occur. The meetings are scheduled to begin Sunday evening in suburban Washington DC... How come Ohio State and Michigan were both ranked in the top four in the country last weekend, and neither college football team is playing in their conference championship game? Weird... The Michigan-Ohio State game and the Kansas City-Denver NFL game came down to where the referees decided to put the football. Never seen anything like that in a 24-hour period... With Green Bay's win at Philadelphia tonight, I won the football pool this week. Yay.

Just a thought: Watching football, one of the clichés that popped up a lot this weekend was 'backs against the wall', and how well certain players seemed to do when that would proverbially happen. It occurred to be this evening watching the Green Bay-Philadelphia game. Wouldn't it be hard to throw a ball like that? You can't move your arm back. Quarterbacks who are in that situation and prevail must be really good.

Photo: The fifth floor rec room at St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank. This is a pretty good picture except the one person you can't see is my mom! Uncle Marty is in the back (left side). Mom is to his left talking to my cousin Andy. She's there, trust me.

The same photo as above. The TV (not pictured) is behind me, as was the
dessert table with I think five pies. Quite the photogenic family, huh?
You can see what my uncle meant.

This was taken a couple minutes earlier. You can see mom (upper left) but Diane
disappeared. My cousin Mikenna (right side, smiling) seemed to be the only one
aware that a picture was being taken.

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