Friday, November 20, 2009

The Best Day Of The Year

fris‧son / Pronunciation [free-sohn; Fr. free-sawn]
a sudden, passing sensation of excitement; a shudder of emotion; thrill.

(Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2006)

Let me tell you about the holiday I like best of all – Thanksgiving.

(Or, really, tell you again. This is a repeat from last year [and probably the year before that, too] but I like it and I don't have anything better to say concerning the upcoming holidays. Hope you don't mind. - Ever-Thoughtful And Considerate Of Your Feelings Editorial Jim)

I like all holidays. Any day you get off from work, or during which people get together to celebrate, or when you get (or give) gifts? In my book, that’s a good day. Some days are more special than others, though.

Christmas used to be my favorite. When I was a kid, I went straight from one frisson to another during the week leading up to Christmas. The celebration of Christ’s birth was magical and there was no end to the ways that the world delighted me. As I’ve grown older, the magic has ebbed. I haven’t changed, however; it’s the world that has.

When I was a child, nearly every house in the neighborhood sported red, yellow, green, blue and orange pastel lights, either as decoration outside or via a candle or two in the windows. The streets were bathed in an embracing warmth, a welcoming glow. Nowadays, the lights of choice are mostly cold; icicles and clear starbursts. I guess a lot of folks like them – otherwise, why would they have them? - but all they do for me is make the night streets too much like daytime. Those bright white lights don’t do anything but remind me of how cold it is in winter. The colorful lights of my childhood made me feel warm, even during the meanest of snowstorms.

(Photo courtesy Photos From My Life. Isn't it a lovely tree?)

The music is omnipresent now. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas music. I always have. I always looked forward to it beginning, sporadically, after Thanksgiving, and then building bit by bit until there was an entire glorious day and night of it from Christmas Eve through to Christmas Night. It played on the radio all day, but only all day on Christmas and most of the day before. In the morning, while opening presents with my Mom and Dad, we played the two or three vinyl Christmas records we had at home. It was special.

Now the trouble is in trying to avoid it. Even as of today, November 20th, there have been radio stations playing Christmas music 24 hours a day for the past three weeks. Seriously - and I mean this - if you like that sort of thing, God bless you. To me, though, Christmas music is like chocolate. A few pieces, rich and creamy, are delightful. Feed it to me non-stop for sixty days? All that is, is a sick stomach.

(My job, as good as it is, doesn’t help matters. I’m a voice-over guy, and I also do production work, but my actual job title is “Music Director”. Therefore, in the course of my duties, I sometimes have to use holiday music for background in pieces I complete for clients during September and October. I try to remain detached while doing so, but...)

The final nail in my Christmas coffin is driven in by the greedy merchants who just plain don't have the common decency to wait for Thanksgiving to be over before they start spewing forth their hideous advertisements. Every year, they start earlier and earlier. I rail against it every year, too. MY WIFE tells me to relax, that I can’t change it, that there really isn’t anything all that bad about it. I love MY WIFE dearly, but on this she’s dead wrong. I’ll go to my grave cursing those bastards for draining the innocent joy out of a lovely day. I try to ignore it and I try to keep the spirit I believe in, but they just beat me down and beat me down and one of these days I won’t be able to get back up.

I can’t even begin to imagine how hideous a time it must be for those who don’t share my faith. No wonder some of the atheists keep trying to run it out of town. The money-grubbing parasites, who see it only as a time to reel in a profit, have turned it into something even I want to partially get rid of.

Ah, I suppose that’s a bit over the top. The day still has charm. The real importance of it, for someone like me, is spiritual, and the sons of bitches can’t rip that out of me unless I let them. The people I share the day with, and with whom I eat good food and exchange lovely and loving gifts, are dear to me. They still make it a wonderful day, but that frisson I spoke of earlier, that I used to have in multiples during the season, hasn’t been felt in quite a while.


The only holiday I can always count upon to deliver a frisson is Thanksgiving.

(I’m trying to set the world record for frisson mentions in one blog. Am I there yet?)

I have never had a bad Thanksgiving. Not one. As a matter of fact, not only have I not had a bad one; I’ve had nothing but good ones for as long as I can remember.

For every other holiday, I can dredge up at least one bummer. There have been New Years Eves with toothaches and New Years Days with hangovers, Washington’s Birthdays with flu, Memorial Days with sunburns, July Fourths with car accidents, Labor Days with the dread of returning to school, Halloweens with stolen candy, and even Christmases with “Dear John” letters thrown into the mix, but never a bad Thanksgiving.

(I’m hoping I’m not the victim of selective memory. Somewhere in the past there may have been one horrible incident I’ve tucked into a corner of my mind under lock and key. If so, and you know about it, don’t tell me. I’d rather be ignorant and happy.)

You know one of the reasons why it’s so easy to have a good Thanksgiving? Nobody’s trying to sell you anything. It’s just good company, some football, great food and maybe a nap with your belt loosened. The biggest thing anyone can put up for sale is a bird. There are no bogus guilt trips laid on you by manufacturers trying to make you feel as though you haven’t done right by your loved ones. All you have to do, to do right by your loved ones on Thanksgiving, is show up.

Oh, the smells of Thanksgiving dinner cooking! There is no perfume in existence that matches the fragrance of turkey, stuffing, gravy, squash, turnip, sweet potatoes, hot rolls, pumpkin pie, and all of the other mouth-watering aromas that emanate from the kitchen on that day. It is the smell of pure love. The one doing the cooking isn’t doing it because he or she is guilt-ridden. It’s being done because the people who will eat the feast are near and dear; as simple and lovely as that.

MY WIFE and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our place for the past fourteen years. It is the most sublime pleasure of my year to plan that meal and then prepare it. I’m the luckiest man in my family. I get to enjoy those smells longer than anyone else. And I get the lion’s share of the leftovers, too.

I remember lovely, huge tables full of food at my grandparent’s apartment in Roslindale, the vegetables served in great green ceramic bowls and topped with pats of yummy, unhealthy real butter. I remember waking in my upstairs bedroom to the smell of a turkey roasting in my childhood home in Dorchester. After my parent’s divorce, I ate TWO huge dinners every Thanksgiving – the first cooked by my father and the second served at my Grandma’s in Weymouth, where I would eat with my mother. It wasn’t easy, but I loved both of them too much to disappoint either one of them, so I did my duty. I even ate a couple of pieces of pie at both places, just so they’d have no doubt about how much I cared.

I try to remember what the name of the holiday calls for – the giving of thanks. I look upon my preparation and sharing of food as a sacred rite of sorts. There’s no skimping on this meal. If money’s tight, it’s a way of showing my faith in the idea that God will bring better times. Always, it’s a time to be thankful for the good people who are sharing the table with me (even if some of them don't like their picture taken.)

There are lovely constants at Thanksgiving. For instance, every year the Detroit Lions play football. Well, at least they try, and they ought to get credit for that. And the same stories get told at the table. There's one that never fails to get mentioned, concerning turnip and a Danish friend of the family .

Seems that one year, when this Dane was a holiday guest, my grandmother was preparing the food and one of the vegetables was turnip. The fellow laughed and said, in his Danish accent, “Turnip! Ha-ha! Very funny!” and when he was asked why he was laughing, he said, “Ho-ho! Yes, the joke’s on me! That’s a very funny joke. OK, you can take it away, now.” Seems that they only served turnip to pigs in his region of Denmark. He thought it was a joke for his benefit. When he found out that it was something we actually ate, and enjoyed, he became somewhat indignant, if not sick to his stomach. Every year, when I bring out the turnip, that story returns for it’s annual telling. And I love it. There is also usually a mention of turducken as though it were just invented the previous week.

When the meal is over – well, at least the part of the meal that doesn’t involve pie – my stepfather and I turn our attention to the end of the Lion’s game. Meanwhile, the other folks have good conversation, coffee, tea, and, yes, pie. If the Lions win, Bill and I have a piece of pie to celebrate their good fortune. Since this rarely happens, we console ourselves with a piece of pie if they lose. It’s all good.

Soon, it gets to be late afternoon and folks start leaving. First, my Cousin Scott and his wife, Andrea, because they go visit some other relatives. Then my Uncle Rick and Grandma. Finally, Bill and my Mom hit the road, and then it’s just me and MY WIFE, all alone in the house. At that point, I do what any red-blooded American man would do. I take a couple of the leftover rolls, slice ‘em open, stuff them with turkey and dressing and a spoon or two of gravy, and eat them. And then watch the end of the Dallas game.

I love this holiday so much, I take the entire week off each year. That way, I can very leisurely clean the house and buy the food and decorate and do prep work for the feast, taking those chores completely off of the hands of MY WIFE, who deserves at least as much of a restful, enjoyable feast as I’m giving everyone else. I love every moment of that busy, yet still somehow slothful, week. And, since I only post from work, that’s why this is the last post until December 1st (at which time you'll get more re-runs, because I take the week off from writing, too, but they'll be really good ones, so please come back!)

I wish you a Tremendously Happy Thanksgiving. Eat much, show love. See you in 11 days, with more better (albeit still re-ran) stuff.


Tara said...

sending much Love & Hugs to you & Miss Donna

Michelle H. said...

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, MLGF! Hopefully see you in December.

Brian Miller said...

so i was googling frisson and stumbled hope you have a great thanksgiving...its one of my favorites as well..

Sandi McBride said...

Me too, Jim. Hope yours is everything you want it to be.

Buck said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Jim!

This is probably a re-run of last year's comment, but I agree with ya bout the multi-colored Christmas lights of yore. I'm not fond of the lil white things at ALL. That's probably just another symptom of Ol' Fart's Disease... present company excepted.

GreenJello said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. :) Definitely my favorite holiday!

And I'm glad to see my comic is now a permanent part of your Thanksgiving reruns. :)

Chris said...

Well said, Jim. I do love Christmas, but I don't even start getting into it until the first or second week of December. Theresa, on the other hand, would happily put up the tree the day after Halloween if I let her. And the ultimate Christmas music to me is the Vince Guaraldi Peanuts album (Christmastime is here is probably my favorite). And Mel Torme's recording of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting etc., etc.)"

Happy Thanksgiving, Jim, and if you're looking for rerun ideas, I could always read The Beer Train again.

eileen said...

Happy Thanksgiving!! And I totally agree- it's the best holiday. All of the family and food, and none of the fuss.

Desmond Jones said...

Jim. . . Jim. . . Jim. . .

Even Lions fans know better than to hang their pumpkin pie on whether or not the Lions win. . .

Thanksgiving does have wonderful frisson - family, feasting and. . . do I hafta say 'football'? 'Cuz honestly, if I hafta come up with a third 'F', I can think of at least one other one that I'd rather be doing than 'Lions Duty'. . .

No matter - we're at the stage of life where Thanksgiving and Christmas are almost the only times we see many of our family members. And turkey and stuffing, and. . . my sister makes a Curried Fruit dish that's incredible, and my other sister's Sweet Potato Casserole is certifiably Barely Legal. And you get the idea. . .

I love Christmas, and I always will, just for what it means (and the Retailers be damned). But that takes nothing away from Thanksgiving, and its Fabulous Frisson of Familiality (no extra charge for the alliteration). . .

Pat - Arkansas said...

Wishing you a most Happy Thanksgiving, Jim.

Please pass the turnips! I love well prepared turnips (a bit of bacon, a bit of sugar, black pepper), and now that I've read this, I may make a bit bowl of them for the family Thanksgiving dinner, to be held at my daughter's home. I'm supposed to bring only pecan pie and dressing. I will still prepare these and throw in turnips as an added "thanks" for all the blessings I continue to receive.

Again -- a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Not "bit" bowl -- BIG bowl!

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

Hmmmm! That reminds me of a story ;-)

Meanwhile, I am going to try to find a copy of Stan Freberg's Green Christmas.

[unsin] is the ironic verification word

Marian Dean said...

Enjoy your week off!
Don't come back with housemaids knees though!

Love Granny

Maggie May said...

Obviously we don't have Thanks giving in England but I wish I was joining you at your place because it looks so lovely. I think Christmas comes far too soon and by the time we have it..... it is stale. I think the true meaning of Christmas is not all the tinsel, presents and jingly music...... but the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the singing of carols and having a family time. That doesn't need to happen until Christmas!

Nuts in May

Unknown said...

I loved this post, because I love Thanksgiving, too! Have a good one.

Jazz said...

Thanksgiving FIRST!!!!

*Would you believe word verification was: INGRATE. I kid you not.

Stu said...

You're number 3 in a Google search of blogs for the word "frisson" - very nice.

Eddie Bluelights said...

I think we in GB are missing out not having thanksgiving.
Loved the account of your family get together and celebrations - very best wishes Jim and have a good break - look forward to your return ~ Eddie

Ananda girl said...

Lovely post! I could not agree more about the heaviness of in your face Christmas these days.

To you and yours I wish a happy, loving holiday! Enjoy.

Cricket said...

Still love that turnip story - and turnips themselves, for that matter. Nothing like a glorious plate of brown food. Maybe even followed by a glorious tumbler of brown whiskey. Have a great Thanksgiving, my swell pal.

~j said...

have a fantastic Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Char said...

Sounds like you have plenty to be giving thanks over. Wonderful post.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. said...

Wonderful post Sul...thanks.

I see you have someone in the witness protection program at the table too!

Angie Ledbetter said...

I'm all about da frisson, sha! (So, since you're using a Cajun word, I'm assuming you'll apologize soon for the snitty crawfish slams and such?)

Happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

lime said...

i could not have said it better myself. i wish you and YOUR WIFE a most wonderful thanksgiving.

know that as i ponder the things over the past year to be thankful for one of them will be the opportunity to meet you both earlier this year.

the funny thanksgiving meal with a foreigner at our house was when i invited my mandarin prof to join us. my husband and the girl coaching him in the art of the garbage can turkey roast set our backyard on fire. it was eventually put out with no real damage except to the bottom of my husband's shoes but i can still see us all peering out the window as the two of them hopped around the yard and beating at it with whatver they coudl find.

Jeni said...

Good thing I love reruns -like "The Wizard of Oz," "It's a Wonderful Life" -"A Christmas Story" and many, many more so a good post about a beautiful holiday is also a welcome thing too!
Worth reading, worth repeating, Right?
Hope you and yours have a most bounteous Thanksgiving complete with good winners in the Football games too!
I'll be in the kitchen! (Wishing I could sit back with snacks and some cold beer and watch the games, cheering them on -anyone except the Cowboys, that is!)

sandyshares said...

for me its the fact that my blessings abound and I can give them extra attention that day ..Have a memory maker sandy

Anonymous said...

I'm slowly turning away from Xmas to T-Day as well for many of the fun filled reasons you mentioned...

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Your wife is a very, very blessed lady!!!! You? DO THANKSGIVING??? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!!!!!!! I may have to direct my husband to read this post...ROFL...I do love Thanksgiving...and coming before Christmas, it is a good way to prepare our hearts with an appropriate attitude...focusing not on the getting but on what we already have to be thankful for!!!! This is a fantastic post, Jim!!! Well worth the rerun!!!! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week, my friend!!! All the best to you and yours!!! Hugs, Janine

Kathleen said...

Well, Suldog, you did it. You got me laughing! I'm indeed impressed. It was the recounting of the holidays and misshaps. I agree 100% with you about this holiday, and I'd venture to say my kids would, too. It's always been a very low-stress event, even when we've hosted it year after year. And I am of the mindset (and I know I'm a minority opinion on this) that there should be no children's table, that kids should be squeezed in snug as bug right there with the grownups. And we go around and say what we're thankful for, the kids can add their delightful comments and they can hear ours.

Have a wonderful meal with all the accoutrements!

Alison said...

Happy Thanksgiving Jim... to you and your family! Hope your time away from work is pleasant and relaxing!

Saz said...

happy Thanks-giving my lovely Jim and family!!!

Hilary said...

Wishing you the happiest of holidays. Have an extra helping for me, please. :)

Uncle Jim said...

Since you shall not return for 11 days. MERRY CHRISTMAS! Enjoy the Trappist Fruit Cake.

Jackie said...

Your wife is a jewel to have Thanksgiving at her house every year; give her a hug for me.
Enjoy the day...the week.
(I had to look up 'turducken'..)
Smiles to you from Jackie

Lisa Johnson said...

Happy Thanksgiving Jim! I hope you're having a great week! ;)

Chris Stone said...

Happy Thanksgiving!
"I can’t even begin to imagine how hideous a time it must be for those who don’t share my faith. No wonder some of the atheists keep trying to run it out of town."
lol. well. personally I've always enjoyed the tinsel. I even like some of the music. handel's messiah rocks. you don't have to believe in something to appreciate art or fun.
oddly, thanksgiving has become a difficulty for this atheist! its because of the hand holding prayer done before the meal. its against my beliefs? yet my not participating bothers others. last year i left the room. i thought this the most diplomatic thing to do. this year i wasn't invited.

my suggestion for those with atheists in the family. discuss religious rituals before the holiday, and find a way to respect the beliefs of all.

Saz said...

hey JIm, pop over to Pondparleys (expat mums other blog) and join the argu...discussion about thanksgiving..its a hoot and a riot!!

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for being a fun blogger who causes us to laugh, cry, think, and discuss so many amazing topics.
Read you soon!
Peace, Judi

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Hope you had a wonderful, fantastic, incredible, delightful, love-filled day!!!! Hugs, Janine

Sniffles and Smiles said...

I hope you are enjoying lots of fabulous left-overs, my friend!!! Hugs, Janine

Susan English Mason said...

I've got a re-run for you.

Family Guy.

Cool Whip
Cool Whip
Cool Whip
You're eating hair.

Unknown said...

A very late sentiment but still very much heartfelt -- happy Thanksgiving Jim! I hope you and the family had a wondruful meal and a nice relaxing day all around. Looking forward to catching back up with you in December :-)

Word verification is "bledso" -- 1 E short of a full quarterback haha

Nestor Family said...

Better late than never! (I hope!)

I just could not completely pass this up!

Happy Thanksgiving! (I was blessed with one!!!)

Gennasus said...

Just catching up with you, I'm way behind.

I'm sure you had a great Thanksgiving and I understand your feelings on the modern Christmas. We'll have all the family here this year and we're trying not to let materialism get in the way. I'm hoping for a frisson or two.