Some moments in life are so sublimely funny, they live on no matter what. When I was a junior in high school, we had a HUGE crowd for Thanksgiving dinner. My oldest sister and her family. My brother. My youngest sister. My grandmother and Aunt Kay. Some family friends from Cortland. Some mutual friends of my youngest sister and oldest sister. Somehow, we managed to jam around our dining room table. Being the youngest, I was sandwiched toward one end of the table, my brother to my left around the top of the table by Dad. On my right was Curtis Smith, a mutual friend of my oldest sister's husband and my youngest sister. Telling tales out of school, Curt and my brother had escaped from the house about an hour before to prepare for a large meal. They asked if I wanted to go, and I DID want to go, but I was such a chicken I said no. They returned, eyes bloodshot, very mellow, ready to eat gobs of whatever was put before them.
So there I am, a scrawny barely-16-year-old, surrounded by our large, noisy, crowd, three conversations (at least) going on around the table, the food disappearing, sitting next to a very cool guy to whom I wanted it made clear I was not as nerdy and goofy as I looked.
That was when the chair I was sitting in collapsed.
One second, I was sitting there chatting with Curt, the next, the chair seat, with my ass still in it, is flat on the floor. I looked up and Curt, smiling in that way reserved for the happily stoned, said, "Where'd you go?"
I couldn't help myself. I started laughing, too. My parents wanted to make sure I was alright, and I assured them that, beyond embarrassment, I was fine. We somehow scrounged up another chair, and I finished the meal without further incident.
Of all the things I am thankful for - for just being alive, to be sure; for my wife and children who each day make me smile and laugh and remind me what grace is - I think having been part of the family in which I grew up is one that I only came to appreciate as I grew older. But, I am thankful. Five kids, two parents, various and sundry animals, friends, significant others, in-laws, the next generation - they all have traipsed through my parents' house at one time or another, sometimes many at once, sometimes just a few. My own feeling has always been, the more the merrier. If there's one regret I have moving to the midwest, it is that my kids have yet to experience a family gathering at casa Safford in Waverly. When I think about that Thanksgiving; when I think about all the great times I had growing up with my Konicki and Johnston cousins; when I think of the parade of friends and boyfriends and acquaintances and whatnot, I want my kids to experience that, not only to enjoy the company of their various cousins, but just for the experience.
When you're sitting down tomorrow, whether it is just one or two in an intimate setting, or a huge, multi-generational gathering; whether it is around a traditional meal of turkey and all the trimmings, or perhaps a ham or lamb roast; whether it is done early in the day or late - enjoy and remember all the things for which you are thankful.