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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

   Thanksgiving is a holiday that makes me pensive. I'm fortunate this year, as I was last, to be in a happy place with a  healthy family all doing well and making their way in the world.  
   As I walk the streets of Manhattan on the various errands necessary to complete our dinner plans, I come across evidence that not everyone is in the same place I am. 
   I pass empty stores, the wine shop where the people were so friendly, my favorite shoe store --both closed. 
   A fancy gluten-free Italian food place replaced our beloved deli, run by immigrants who had, over the 30 years they were there, become our friends. 
   We had watched their kids grow up and they watched ours. No trip home from college was complete for Stevie unless he stopped in the deli. They were glad to see him. They are gone. My security blanket if I need anything on Thanksgiving day left with them. 
    There are a few homeless people, asking for money. People who live in buildings next door, are there through the generosity of The Coalition for the Homeless. What are these people planning for tomorrow? Will they be dining at a beautiful table with loving family or friends? 
   The sights I see make me depressed, melancholy. I feel the sadness of in the air around me. Some people don't have much to be thankful for except for the fact that they are alive. 
   Then there are some small shops doing a thriving business, bustling with people --the little flower shop, the small grocery store, and others. There is good cheer there. 
   One thing I hate in life, change, is inevitable. I hang on to a small piece of sameness every year by recreating the Thanksgivings we've always had. We're a small crowd, just five this year. And that suits me fine. Less work and more food.
   Outside our door, on the day before, hordes of people pass, eager to stand in an interminable line of hundreds of kindred spirits, to see the balloons being blown up for the parade. We are on the very block where that begins. It's insanity here for 24 hours. 
   Twenty years ago, no one knew about it. We'd take the kids over to watch Spiderman being inflated. It was our secret. It was an Upper West Side "thing". Now it belongs to the masses. 
   As I head toward home, I do stop to wonder about others less fortunate and what the holiday means to them. 
  I know that someday our holiday will change. Things will continue to be different in my neighborhood every year. I may not like it, but I accept it. Eventually we'll be traveling to our kids' homes for Thanksgiving, when we get too old to host it. 
   But for now, it's one thing on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that isn't changing. And I'm thankful for that. 


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