Ever Thankful

New protocols for the Thanksgiving feast might just allow us to enjoy what’s most important.

Fran LoBiondo
by Fran LoBiondo

It’s the eve of Thanksgiving and we have much to express our thanks for.

And I’m sure I’ll think of one before the family dinner tomorrow. I hate to count my blessings publicly, because it seems so iffy.

What if I spout off about my health, and then get a dreaded diagnosis?

But okay, I’ll count a few. We had a good, if fractured, summer vacation in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Some of our family could not make it, but we had fun with the folks who did. And the mountain air was more pure and cool than the record-breaking heat at home.

Greg was happier than anyone (except his parents) to get a break from isolating in place and bugging us with every breath to take him to his program, which was closed all summer.

Sad story: At the beginning of October, schools were finally allowed to open under the health guidelines of the pandemic.

Oh, happy day! We made lunches, picked out clothes, and dropped him off with his Face mask covering his ear-to-ear grin.

This went on long enough for Greg and his special needs posse to get used to the germ-free environment.

Three weeks in, the place had to close down again because one student contracted the virus.

Greg does not understand this, so he spends his days and nights asking when his Lost Paradise will reopen, again, and again, and again. To us, it’s like being trapped in a cave with only screeching baboons for company. It’s hard for us not to screech, too.

Okay, happy story again: For Thanksgiving dinner this year, we will gather at our niece, Dawn’s house. Per the hostess’ instructions, it will be an informal potluck affair with everyone bringing something to eat or drink, but only paper plates and aluminum pans are allowed. No cleanup necessary.

What can I say? If someone invites me to a party with no cleanup, it will be just like a vacation. We can finish dinner and go.

Or, as our oft-quoted father would yell, “You people think you can eat dinner and just waft off to the drawing room leaving the mess for the maid!

“Well, let me tell you people something: There is no (gosh-darned) maid!”

He was quite the martyr.

Okay, back to the present (or closer to the present). When I was younger, I tried to do it all. Crisis cleaning, cooking the sides, making desserts in advance, gathering serving ware, setting up two or three tables with unmatched cloths.

We used the good plates that we had to handwash; silverware from my Godmother Kathleen’s wedding also needing handwashing. My sister always volunteered to cook the bird.

Then the coffee and dessert were served, and someone would hop up and start cleaning up instead of chillaxing. It was way more complicated than necessary.

Vineland is a long way for some to travel, and they’d be starting for home before I got in on the conversation. I thought my high-maintenance way was fun, but it left me too exhausted to sit and have a catchup conversation.

I am astounded by the load of work we will miss with Solo cups and Dixie plates when we do it Dawn’s way. And if we work it right, dividing up the leftovers should be easy as pie. We who are travelling will bring plastic containers to carry home the loot.

We’ve become much more sophisticated about this part of the meal, so there should be peace on Earth.

Hope nobody brings dueling pistols.

My mom always enjoyed gathering all of her kids and grandkids close for one special day, and she could get a little cranky when we wouldn’t “Sit down, eat and relax, for heaven’s sake!”

I have decided that Grandma and Dawn are right. I am only too glad to attend a paper plate party.

Now that would be something to be thankful for.

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Life Sentences