From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!
© Bruce Stambaugh 2020
From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!
© Bruce Stambaugh 2020
Thanksgiving season is upon us here in the U.S. The day won’t be the same as in years past, with the pandemic still raging. Nevertheless, we can, and we should celebrate.
I have always relished Thanksgiving. The food, the fellowship, the interplay of cross-generational conversation and gaming made the day special.
Growing up in blue-collar northeast Ohio, my four siblings and I had a boatload of first cousins with whom we communed on Thanksgiving Day. Our maternal grandmother graciously oversaw the gathering of her three daughters and their families.
A buffet of all the traditional Thanksgiving goodies filled the long dining room table at our Aunt Vivian and Uncle Kenny’s place, where we usually assembled. Other relatives occasionally joined us.
Besides gorging ourselves, we played football, hide and seek, and sang at the piano. By day’s end, both our stomachs and our souls were more than satisfied. Laughter and familial love will do that.
As the children matured to teens and then to adults, spouses joined in the festivities. Out of necessity, each family began meeting separately.
Thanksgiving Day resembled a progressive supper. It was one house for a noontime holiday spread and then dinner at the in-laws with an equivalent bounty.
Those traditions evolved even further when our children married or moved hours away. Thanksgiving became an extended holiday to accommodate as many attendees as possible. We would eat our way through Thursday to Sunday.
Regardless of the settings and meeting arrangements, fond memories always resulted. That was true even if the mashed potatoes were lumpy or the dressing was too dry.
This year, those memories will have to flavor Thanksgiving Day whatever, however, and wherever we celebrate. The coronavirus will likely alter any large gatherings, even if they include all family members.
As the contagious pandemic continues to spread and spike, we all have to do our part to thwart its invisible advance. It never was going to evaporate, no matter who won the presidential election.
This Thanksgiving, we have to let go of our traditions, our expectations, and our American pride and do what is best for the common good of all. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises against any large-group inside gatherings.
The professional advice is that people not be in an enclosed space with the same people for more than 15-minutes. I’ve been known to be a fast eater, but not that fast.
For my wife and me, that means we will be hoping for a warm Thanksgiving Day to meet outside with our daughter, her husband, and our three grandchildren. We’ll connect as we are able with our son and his wife in New York.
This pandemic has been the paradigm shift of a lifetime for all of us. It’s been hard for us, independent-minded citizens, to accept governmental and medical leaders’ guidelines and restrictions.
Trying to provide accurate safety information about a new and dangerous virus can’t be easy. It is incumbent on all of us to follow the advice to help slow this COVID-19 until an effective vaccine arrives.
Nevertheless, virus or no virus, Thanksgiving Day will arrive, and we should express our great gratitude. How that occurs is an individual choice, of course.
I am grateful for the many blessings received over all these many years. If we can’t meet in person with our family like my nostalgic recollections, I will be disappointed. However, we can still express our appreciation virtually.
The principle of being thankful is the very foundation for Thanksgiving. Let us all keep that tradition alive as joyously and safely as possible.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2020
What could be more appropriate than a photo of a roast turkey ready to be carved on Thanksgiving Day?
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!
“Happy Thanksgiving” is my Photo of the Week.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2019
In the United States, the fourth Thursday of November is designated as Thanksgiving Day. Its purpose originated in October 1621 when the Wampanoag Native Americans joined with Pilgrim settlers to celebrate the harvest time. Here is a link if you want more details.
In honor of the day and the season, the Photo of the Week is a typical scene from Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, where my wife and I have lived since May 2017. We will be having the traditional meal of turkey and all the trimmings, including the grandkids’ favorite dessert, Nana’s delicious apple pie.
Wherever you may live, from our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!
© Bruce Stambaugh 2018
A straggly driftwood tree on a lonely beach might seem like a strange symbol with which to say “Happy Thanksgiving.” From my perspective, it’s just right. The stalwart tree, battered by wind and sea, still stands. To me, it serves as a reminder of all those in the world today who have so little, who daily strive to just find food, water, and shelter. Likely, we don’t have to really look too far to find folks who lack at least one of those most precious life necessities.
It struck me that the tree dramatically overshadows the person walking the beach looking for seashells and sharks teeth. Of course, this is due to distance. That perspective, however, serves to highlight just how small we are in relationship to all of the world’s human problems.
My point on this Thanksgiving Day in the United States is for all of us to be extra thankful for all that we have. It’s too easy to take for granted the gathering of friends and family around a bountiful table of your favorite Thanksgiving offerings. As we partake in the meal, let us remember in prayer and in decisive action those who have so little.
“Standing Strong” is my Photo of the Week.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
© Bruce Stambaugh 2017
By Bruce Stambaugh
The five of us men sat around the breakfast table enjoying the tasty food and each other’s company. As much as I cherished knowing these friends, and the nutritious breakfast, it was the conversation that captured my attention.
Half way through the hour-long gathering, I realized I was smiling, grateful to be included in this forthright discussion about what really matters in life. The hard, direct questions about life and death enthralled me. The frank, honest, heartfelt answers fueled the no-frills banter.
This was a Thursday morning, the usual bi-weekly get-together of our cancer support group, affectionately known as the Bluemen. Blue is the color for prostate cancer, and that was a common denominator of the group, save for one member.
Our host, normally a reserved, contemplative man, was passionately engaged in the meaningful discussion. By early Monday morning, he had died.
When I learned of his death, I wasn’t shocked. Deeply saddened yes, but not surprised given that intense interaction I had witnessed regarding life and preparing to die.
That precious morning, I sat and listened mostly, participating only when absolutely necessary. I was too absorbed to interrupt the flow of the dialogue’s stream.
Our friend, Bill, had joined our cancer support group for just that kind of interaction. This diminutive but gentile giant of a man wanted our companionship in his journey with prostate cancer. We gladly welcomed him.
Bill immediately felt at home with us. One of the most humble individuals I had ever met, Bill easily joined in the group’s chitchat. He, like the rest of us, shared intimate details that only those with prostate cancer unashamedly reveal, even over breakfast.
At times, this quiet, simple man talked our ears off. Once he even tried to introduce politics, a violation of our unwritten protocol. We all laughed.
Though not a prostate cancer victim, Kurt joined our group because there are no living members to offer comfort for his kind of cancer. Just like Bill, Kurt held nothing back either.
Our table talk revolved around what it’s like to die, are we afraid to die, what will we miss, what will we look forward to in the afterlife? And so it went, at first monthly, then every other week when Bill had a set back a few months ago.
Bill wanted to continue to meet, so this affable man and his amazing wife invited us into their home. We ate, talked, and laughed some more. Sometimes we even shed a few tears.
Besides cancer, the group members were bound as one by two other mutual traits. Our common faith, and our gratitude for the life opportunities we had had, and would have made us brothers.
We had no idea of what was about to play out with Bill following that marvelous Thursday morning gathering. I was glad for the multitude of thanks expressed then for all that had come our way in life. The good far outweighed the bad, even including cancer.
Each in our close-knit group was appreciative of life, to live, to love, to be loved. That was enough, more than any of us could ever have desired.
The turkey and all the trimmings of Thanksgiving are nice. Our group’s regular sharing affirmed that being grateful means so much more than a holiday spread. The Bluemen were most thankful for the immeasurable joy, love and fellowship of devoted families and friends.
Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is really all about?
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014
By Bruce Stambaugh
It was only appropriate that for a full week after the first snow of the year that we experienced a perfect Indian summer here in Ohio.
The extended summer-like days, which seemed to actually improve chronologically until the rains came, served as a picturesque bridge between a superb fall and an inexplicit winter yet to come.
We can only wonder what winter will be like. Will it be as harsh and record breaking as the last? We hope not. Clearly we have no say in the matter.
Every fall the National Weather Service issues a long-term guesstimation of what winter will bring. But even the scientists hedge their prognostications on percentages, casino like.
In the end, we have no choice but to take what we get. Hushed by the holiday clamor, a certain question lingers unspoken. Will we appreciate what we receive? In truth, that question can and should be applied far beyond the realm of weather.
I remember well the winter of 2004-2005 when the infamous ice storm nailed our area. The accumulating ice snapped giant trees, brought down power lines, halted commerce, interrupted communications, and thinned traffic to emergency purposes only for days.
Those of us who were on the electrical grid were hit hard. Fortunately, an Amish friend saved my family and me with the use of a generator to at least keep the gas hot water heat on. Without the generator’s assistance, the pipes in our home would have frozen and burst, causing extensive damage. Thankfully that did not happen, due to the unconditional generosity of my friend.
All the while, with our communication to the outside world cut, thousands upon thousands of people were caught in the wake of a horrific earthquake and subsequent tidal waves that killed scores of people.
In sorting through an overflowing basket of mishmash the other day, I came upon some handwritten notes I had made about the catastrophe. Apparently, I did so while listening to a battery-operated radio. In reviewing my scribbling, I was reminded that the inconvenience of living without electricity for five days paled in comparison to the plight of millions of fellow human beings halfway around the world.
A sampling of my jottings, dated Dec. 26, 2004, relived the calamity: Banda Ache, 60-foot wave, two miles inland, 30 mph, eight-12 feet deep flood; deaths, 200,000 in Indonesia alone, 400,000 injured; no system to alert people in Indian Ocean rim; 9.3 magnitude earthquake, the world’s deadliest tsunami. Unfortunately, those initial notations proved accurate.
Once power was restored the horrible scenes unfolded on television. I was appalled for the victims, thankful for my family that we had only lost power and a few trees in the yard. Compared to the widespread wreckage and unbelievable totals of death and injuries of so many innocents, we had been fortunate.
Since then, infinite natural and man-made disasters, including the sluggish global economy, have occurred. Others will likely continue to develop as time progresses. Nevertheless, as we begin this holiday season in North America, we still have so much for which we can be thankful no matter our personal situation.
This Thanksgiving perhaps we can express our gratitude by simply helping the less fortunate. We may not have to look clear to the Indian Ocean rim for those opportunities either.
Maybe, just maybe, a proactive generosity can be an Indian summer bridge to brighten someone else’s rainy day life. That would be a practical, productive and prudent Thanksgiving.
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