A couple of different family gatherings are being planned for the Thanksgiving holiday and by the time Saturday rolls around I probably will have had more than my annual allotment of tryptophan. Which means I could be settling in for a nap.
Actually, I think they busted that holiday myth that it’s the turkey that makes you sleepy and while it does contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the brain produce serotonin, which does help you sleep … they say it’s not really the turkey’s fault. No, I think it’s probably the addition of the mashed potatoes and gravy, the stuffing, a couple dinner rolls, all topped off with pumpkin pie that makes us sleepy. Or, more appropriately, immobile. You eat too much, you can’t move. You can’t move, you get sleepy. You get sleepy, you take a nap.
The only remedy is to pace yourself, which is not something most of us want to do when Thanksgiving rolls around. We were speaking recently in our weekly newspaper staff meeting about the food we consider our favorite at Thanksgiving and it ran the gamut, but we all seemed to agree that the leftovers are one of the best parts. We also all agreed that turkey just isn’t the same at Christmas time. The Thanksgiving turkey is always the best. Maybe it’s because that early morning ritual of putting the turkey in the oven and having it slowly fill up the house with the smell of goodness as it roasts throughout the day signals the real start of the holiday season.
We often could count on snow for Thanksgiving Day when I was growing up in upstate New York. My brother and I always found time to throw the football around the yard, although some years it required snow boots and gloves.
It also was about family, whether it was my mom doing the bulk of the cooking or if we headed out to visit out-of-state relatives for the long holiday weekend. I think that’s one of the things I enjoy most about the local community meals that are hosted each Thanksgiving in Oakdale and Escalon. For those that may not have family in the area, for the elderly and the shut-ins, for those that might need a helping hand; this day can be tough. The volunteers that put on the free turkey-and-all-the-trimmings meals really grasp the spirit of the holiday. It’s one of thanks and giving. Being thankful for what you have and taking time to give to someone else, that’s the true lesson.
Thanksgiving Day will see holiday meals served up at the Oakdale and Escalon Community Centers. Both are open to all, free of charge, come and share food and fellowship.
For years, it was a tradition that my daughter and I would volunteer at the Escalon dinner; she was so young when she started that her first job was putting the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie. But she wore her favorite dress, did her hair and placed that dollop of cream on the pie with a smile on her face. The year she ‘graduated’ to taking dinner orders, she loved it. I was blessed to have handled a variety of jobs, from washing dishes to helping box up take-out orders to refilling water glasses and coffee cups. One year our whole family gathered and enjoyed dining on the meal together after Ally and I finished our ‘shift.’
Oakdale is the same, a virtual army of volunteers, with much of the work done on Wednesday afternoon/evening so they are ready to open the doors to the masses on Thanksgiving.
Black Friday madness will arrive soon enough and then it’s just a blur until the end of the year. So before all that happens, just take a moment to think about the blessings in your life. We all have them, this is one day we can stop and truly be thankful – thankful for what we have and the people we love.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.