Saturday, November 24, 2012


I hope everyone had a memorable Thanksgiving
 I know I did in a way I never would have imagined.

My Father-in-law suffered a stroke 7 months ago. Luckily, he has regained most of his motor skills that he lost but is now what I would describe as fragile. His gait is different but the biggest change is his mental sharpness. Him and I talk about it every time we get together since it is something that we have in common. Because of my illness, I suffered a stroke like episode in December 2 years ago. Since then, I suffer from what they call "brain fog".  The worst part is not the forgetting or not being able to think quickly part, but the way people treat you differently now, even loved ones. So this is what my Father-in-law and I have in common and we have formed a bond over this "thing" that makes us seem half of the person we used to be to our friends and family.

Back to Thanksgiving and my Father-in-law.

He lives about an hour from us in a very rural area. He is by his own choice, a hermit, just far enough away from family meddlings yet close enough to attend important family events.AND, he always has the excuse of not feeling up to driving that far to attend a family function if he does not want to attend. Perfect for him but not so much for his 3 sons. They worry, they are angry, they are confused that he does not want to be closer physically to them.
My husband, the oldest of the 3 boys confided in me that all he wanted to do on Thanksgiving is BE WITH his Pop, he did not care how or where, he just wanted to be with his Pop.....Thanksgiving.

So, with some persistence we finally got Pop to agree to have Thanksgiving with us, at a CASINO buffet dinner. What????????? How could I go from having everyone over for a huge dinner cooked by me to having Thanksgiving dinner at a small smokey casino buffet? It took me a couple of days to wrap my head around this concept.

Everything began to fall into place like magic. No one could commit to dinner on Thanksgiving day but could easily be at our house for a big dinner in a week more or that everyone could attend ( reality of divorce and mixed families). I was thrilled because the only thing that mattered to us was that we could be with 2 of our grandchildren and other loved ones all together on one day, does not matter the day....Thanksgiving.

So....we drive to the casino and meet Pop in the parking lot. He is disheveled and wobbly. The snappy, immaculate dresser and not one hair out of place Pop that we all knew and joked about is gone. BUT....he is happy, he is excited, he is in his element, his world, not ours.He is thrilled that all we are asking of him is his company, his way, not ours...Thanksgiving.

I walk in to this dark, not as smoky as I imagined ,world of a small town casino on a Thanksgiving day. My cynical side immediately wants to take pictures of the people that by first appearances put the "Walmart people" to shame. Here we are , amongst the outcasts, the group of souls that have no place to go for Thanksgiving.....
As we walk thru the Casino I realize that these people are genuinely happy and happy to see each other, this is their "relatives house" that they come to for love and acceptance. It does not matter where they are, it matters who they are with........Thanksgiving.

I start people watching as we are waiting for the buffet to open it's doors. I planted myself at a 1 cent machine, feed it $12 and play while I listen and watch.

People greeted each other, shook hands, hug. Questions are about family, health, how much have you won, did you sign up for the special raffle.  No innuendos about the way you are dressed or your choice of dish to bring, no high pressure to perform perfectly as a host, hostess, wife, mother, daughter, or any family member not mentioned, no battle of wills, no too high expectations not met, no feelings trampled on....Thanksgiving.

In line for the buffet, the cashier seems generally happy to see people, calls people by their first names, laughs and jokes with the people she does not know, and even though she is not at home but working on Thanksgiving, seems truly happy to be there, way more than the obligatory employee courtesy you would expect. So is the hostess and the server. There are even hugs and friendly long conversations with the regulars......Thanksgiving.

I had a wonderful time with my husband and Pop during dinner, great conversation and lots of laughter, especially between my husband and his Pop as they reminisced about past Thanksgivings. Nothing wobbly, disheveled, or forgetful  about Pop now.....Thanksgiving.

So besides winning $48, I got to release myself from that peg I jammed myself into about Thanksgiving, I enjoyed the company and friendship of  my father-in-law, my husband, and alot of strangers who are not strange at all but who know that it does not matter where you are, as long as you are accepted and belong, you are blessed....Thanksgiving.


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