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HOLLENBECK: Try a little kindness and have a happy Thanksgiving

November 23, 2011

Except for St. Patrick’s Day — which my Irish heritage tells me I must claim for my favorite holiday — my “next favorite” is Thanksgiving.
To me, it’s a much better day than Christmas because it’s about family and friends and food and fellowship and all good things in between. I don’t feel pressured to have the perfect gift for everyone I know. I can just enjoy.
Still, if we get to the real reason for the season, Christmas should come first. That’s a no-brainer. It’s the extraneous stuff and human-made pressure that has made that event hectic and difficult and expensive and exhausting.
But Thanksgiving? It has retained all of the good that the holiday was designed to encompass. And I look forward to it every year.
Someone recently mentioned that I should write about “random acts of kindness” since this is the season we try to be thankful for what we have and try to focus our attention on the needs of others.
I liked the idea and would recommend the plan for anyone. You may think you know someone well, but most of the time we don’t know the burdens others are carrying. Sometimes the nicest thing you can do for someone is give the person a hug or some other expression of affection.
The woman who suggested the idea had been the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness. She had planned to purchase a decorative item that didn’t fit into her budget on that day and asked the store clerk to save it until her next payday.
When she got ready to pay for her purchases that particular day, the clerk handed her the item and told her it was hers to enjoy; the employees had taken care of the item as a gift for her.
What a lift that gave her. It was a little thing, but as the old song says, little things mean a lot.
And things like this happen all the time. Sometimes all we need to do is open our eyes and take a look at what’s going on around us. We can do some little thing that will open up a whole new world of happiness for someone else.
We don’t have to become professional do-gooders to make our mark in the world. Notoriety isn’t what it’s all about. Just think about the possibilities.
As I was focusing on Thanksgiving and maybe trying to perform some little deed that could brighten another’s day, I also started recalling Thanksgiving celebrations of the past.
Humor is always at the top of my blessings list. I was raised in a family where laughter prevailed and it’s a permanent part of who I am.
And the stand-out memory for me is the one in which our family faced a raw turkey 30 minutes before the food was scheduled to be on the table.
I had bought into a local grocery store’s promotion to “let us cook your Thanksgiving dinner.” The promo offered turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, rolls, candied yams and pumpkin pie. A feast fit for the pilgrims.
I had arranged to pick up the meal before 11:30 a.m. We had set out celebration for around noon. That’s when relatives from Cotton Plant were scheduled to arrive at our house.
A little after 11, I zipped out to the store to pick up my meal. Imagine my surprise when the employee brought out ready-to-serve dressing, gravy, rolls, sweet potatoes, pecan pie — AND a turkey that had never seen a degree of oven heat. It was as slick as the ones you see on the store shelf.
“This isn’t my turkey,” I shrieked. “It’s not cooked! Why are you giving me this?”
The woman looked as if I had slapped her. “Whadaya mean?”
“The turkey is raw,” I said. “We’re supposed to eat our Thanksgiving dinner in less than an hour. Why isn’t it ready?”
“Who told you it would be cooked?” she replied.
“You did, or rather you ad did,” I told her. “It specifically states ‘let us cook your Thanksgiving dinner for you’ and promised everything would be ready to put on the table.”
I had her there.
“Uh, let me get the manager,” she said.
The next exchange didn’t go much better than what I had experienced with the first employee.
Mr. Manager was flabbergasted to think I had dared to expect the store to have the turkey ready to serve.
“That’s what you ad said,” I argued. “How many people put ‘piping hot gravy’ on a raw turkey?”
“Well, uh-uh-uh, maybe our ad wasn’t clear,” he said. “We never intended for anyone to think we were cooking the turkeys.”
I would wager that he’s never seen a madder redheaded woman than he dealt with that day. I gathered up my hot foods and raw bird and left, literally breaking every traffic rule in the book to get home as quickly as I could.
Julia Child would have shaken her finger at me to observe how quickly I cooked the bird.
The meal, of course, was delayed, but eventually we enjoyed a huge laugh over the whole thing. We snacked on other stuff until around 2 or so and then there finally was a baked turkey for the celebration.
There’s only one thing that could have made the situation worse.
The turkey could have been frozen.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.
lyndahol@yahoo.coma

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