07:15:51 pm on
Thursday 25 Jul 2024

Thanksgivings Past
Matt Seinberg

Every one, my friends, family and co-workers, knows I dislike Holiday Music. It just runs right through me, as a river runs through a canyon at high speed. I find no joy in Holiday Music because radio stations air it too early and there’s too much of it.

Money is the reason for the holiday season.

In years past, stores and radio stations started playing Holiday Music after Thanksgiving. These days, the obnoxious music starts a week or even two before the holiday, if not the day after Halloween. I think people have forgotten what Thanksgiving means. It's a symbol; a celebration of the Pilgrims and Indians, as friends that helped each other.

All it means, today, is a kick off to the holiday spending season. The holiday season means money to retailer. Since Thanksgiving is so late this year, retailers started advertising earlier than normal to try to generate sales. Some retailers rely on the holiday season to stay in business for the rest of the year.

The other event, which unfortunately seems associated with the Holiday Season, is that  large radio companies start to lay off people deemed too highly paid, too old, although they will never admit that for fear of age discrimination lawsuits, or for plain old budget cuts. I wrote of this practice years ago, when Clear Channel Radio, now iHeart, had massive layoffs right before Christmas. Talk about a real Scrooge move!

I prefer to think of the Thanksgivings where we had some fun. My father and I were talking of this the other night. I asked him if he remembered certain trips to our cousins in New Jersey.

They were cousins of my mother; one lived in Montville, New Jersey, the other in Wayne, New Jersey. The cousins in Wayne were Stewart and Estelle; he was well-off physician and she was a socialite. Their house was so big that my home, on Long Island, could have fit very easily on the first floor.

Estelle prepared a special dish, known as hot fruit, for every Thanksgiving dinner. It consisted of raspberries, strawberries, peaches and apricots. It was always one of my favourite foods. Stewart and Estelle had two children, Scott and Amy. My sister and I weren't close to them, largely because of the distance. We only saw them once a year, maybe two if there was another family thing going on.

I didn’t get along with my cousins.

The cousins in Montville were Enid and her husband, Cliff. They had three daughters, Jamie, Lauren and Audra. What I remember, of these cousins, is that as kids, I was the oldest; they all tried to beat me up and were quite mean to me. When all the girls ganged up on me, I just ran.

The three families alternated hosting Thanksgiving dinner. That meant we had to travel to New Jersey two-out-of-three years. Two trips stand out in my mind.

The first was the unbearable traffic on the Whitestone Bridge. It was at a dead stop and only got worse when we got off. My father decided to turn around and not even try to make the journey, because, by the time we got there, dinner would be over. This was way before cell phones; there was no way to call them until we got home.

The problem with the other trip was that when we were leaving Montville, it was raining quite hard. When dad started the car and put on the windshield wipers, they wouldn't work. What do we do, drive and hope it stops raining, hope the wipers start to work or stay in Montville?

Dad decided to drive, and we think, yes, he and I think, the wipers finally build up enough vacuum to start doing their job in the rain. No one recalls exactly what happened. Either way, we made it home safely.

There was one year, roughly thirty years ago, when my mother and stepfather were hosting Thanksgiving dinner at their home in Glen Cove, New York. The four children of my stepfather were there and, I think, my sister may have been there, too, but I don't remember. My mother had the food catered from Ben's Deli and we all ate like there was no tomorrow.

The problem was that I started to feel sick, with a headache and nausea. The food may have tasted good going down, but no so good coming back up. The bathroom and I were best friends for most of that night. I don't know how I made it home in one piece. I blamed the food. Mom blamed me for eating too much.

The last twenty or so years we've had Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws at their home; occasionally, we hosted. As the saying goes, it takes days to cook it, minutes to eat it and hours to clean up. I'm sure everyone can agree with that.

Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate family.

For me, Thanksgiving means being with family and appreciating everything we have. It doesn't necessarily mean things we own, but the things we have. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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