Thursday, November 26, 2015

The First Thanksgiving

No native Americans, no Pilgrims, no venison or pumpkins or beans or corn.
Pity, that.
What we did do was have Thanksgiving dinner at a colonial era tavern in a quiet part of the county with my mother, brother and his wife. Just the girls and Herb and me.
And a thousand other people.

Now I know why we have never ever done this before and will never do it again.
The old tavern was a slew of tiny rooms and one big one, even rooms upstairs which we did not get into, thank you very much. It was difficult enough going from our table (which was between some weird wooden columns and very tiny) to the buffet (which I must confess was quite good and plentiful) and back to the table through four little rooms and one big one and a bar. Holding a plate in one hand and my cane in the other. But I made it before I dropped the plate.
Because it is such an old place, the wide plank floor was squishy and very uneven, which is disturbing because since I can't feel my feet very well, it was like walking on water.

There were lots of elderly people, lots of little kids, lots of women with sneers on their mugs (probably thinking this was a pain in the butt and wishing they had stayed home), an abundance of canes and walkers. With Herb only having one hand to use, me with the cane and thus one hand, and Mom being so tiny and confused looking...we fit right in.

Karyn wasn't nuts about the whole restaurant idea. She and Elyse proclaimed that they would make Thanksgiving dinner next year.

Maybe their cousins will be off work and be able to join us.
Maybe we'll all be together, which would be super nice.
Like it has been for so many years. Just nine people I love at one table.

We neglected to say grace.
That wasn't good.
So I will write it now, the way it was said once a year at our house when I was growing up.

Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, through  Christ our Lord...Amen.

Amen and God bless us all!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Go away!

Uncle Gene was the third of five brothers, one having died quite young, another born well after him. He passed away at the age of dropping dead while eating Chinese food for his birthday. At my mother's kitchen table. Just another story about this who was extremely dear to my heart.

Unk was a state champion wrestler in high school. An Eagle Scout. He was in the Navy during WWII and later the Merchant Marines. He traveled the world and brought all his nieces and nephews fabulous presents from everywhere. At one time, this adventurous man owned a Ferris Wheel and ran with a carnival. When he was off ship, he loved the horses and made a comfortable living at the racetrack.

 I never heard him say anything bad about anyone who wasn't a moron or a hypocrite.
Just before his father passed away, he made Gene promise to take care of his mother, which he did until she died. He attended mass every week. He loved his family and his grand nieces and nephews. All of them.  I can't even count how many there were.

But Uncle Gene didn't tolerate nonsense from people. In his vast wisdom, garnered from years of traveling the world, he was very quick to size up people. The non-tolerating of morons is a genetic trait in our family and this kind, gentle giant spoke from the heart and mind at all times.

Now, I am writing this for a purpose. With the current world situation in the aftermath of Paris and the World Trade Center and the horrors in Africa and every other place where people have been randomly killed off...I have to comment for my uncle as he is not here to give his opinion.

Remember, he was a good man and a tolerant one, but he was not god.

He used to do the shopping for my mother and an aunt and my husband and me for the girls. He would go well out of his way to get bargains or special toys or videos for my kids...going to a store early in the morning just to be the first to get The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, etc. 'cause my kids loved the stories. He did it for them.

But we all have limits.
One day, while standing in line at a local supermarket, he was behind some younger woman who was bellyaching to her friend. "Oh, this is so expensive. It's so much cheaper in Pennsylvania. In fact, everything is so much nicer in Pennsylvania. How can you stand to live in Jersey?"

Very quietly, Uncle stepped closer to her and said in the nicest tone possible, "Lady, if it's so much better in Pennsylvania, why don't you go back and stay there?"

When I thought up this little post, I had a good reason. It meant something to me to write it. Now, I realize it might not actually fit in with the situation in the world. Unless what I meant was that if you keep bitching about something but are not about to do anything to change things, maybe you better shut up.

The whole story doesn't really apply to anything...unless you stop and think that the people who have left their homes in faraway lands have no homes to go back to. Uncle Gene would have seen through all the fears and gotten straight to the point. To those who have no place to go...America's supposed to be the best place to go. We're sorry you have no place left to call home. We'll see what we can do about that. I hope.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Veterans' Day

Tomorrow, the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, is designated as a day to honor all veterans of all the wars, those living and those long gone, for their service and sacrifices.
I live with one of those men. I was nearly considered a veteran myself, having been a WAC one summer, but I don't really qualify except for knowing part of what these people went through.
All honor is theirs.

In my brief experience of boot camp and being treated as an officer...I saw all sides of the army and myself.
I was not suited for the rigors of military life. Here I was, 21 years old, sent off willingly to Anniston, Alabama (a hole in the world) in the middle of that ugly Vietnam war. I knew so many men over own brother and eventual husband. They were there fighting for their lives while I was suffering in the hot Alabama sun.

It wasn't fun, even the brief time I spent in the army.
The tedium. Standing for hours for absolutely nothing. Learning army protocol then marching. Lining up to get a meal, eating in a rush to line up to stand for nothing again. Marching with a pack to nowhere. Crawling, jumping, climbing on an empty belly at dawn. Not my idea of fun summer camp.

But you want to know why?  How I got myself into that situation?
Because my college was closed down in protest to the war.

Jerks from Rutgers came up to agitate, causing all sorts of trouble. Two guys came into my lit class and started screaming. This was one of the classes I did not share with any veterans, but my brother was over there, risking his life for these morons.  One guy, I will describe in the immortal Eric Burdon's word as "a long haired leaping gnome" actually jumped over a desk in his fervor, right in front of me. I told him to get the hell out of my face because my brother was currently in Nam. I didn't appreciate this asshole with some red masking tape over one lens of his eyeglasses and red paint dripped over his t-shirt.
As I look back on it now, I see it as sort of a loud pantomime of reality. His, not mine.

So I decided to enlist or see if I could do something. I was filled with as much fervor as this guy, only pro-the soldiers serving at the time.
I went to an enlistment center and found out about spending my summer in Alabama at Fort McClellan, to learn how to be a WAC officer. I did take the opportunity. If I stayed, I'd have my college paid for. I would also owe the Army two further years of my life.
I went.
I learned lots of things: the Army is hard on the soft human body, it is loud and dangerous and exhausting. I also learned that there was way too much Mickey Mouse (military slang for bullshit) for me to tolerate. After all, I am not a physical person, I'm more mental and creative. But it was good to know what was going on and how necessary it is for some people to be in the military.
Just not me.

It is different now. Instead of being separate, women and men work together. I could never have done it. The women who qualified as Rangers were extraordinary. I'd never have been able to do all that without killing myself.
And women at that time were not allowed to carry firearms, except officers. Now they can blow the hell out of enemies...something I applaud, only I wish no one had to worry about such a horrible thing.

I wasn't military stuff, though I was asked repeatedly to sign up. A WAC didn't do much more than paperwork and fill in for men at that time. What they did was important and necessary, but not really active. The old laws about women being weaker than men held fast. And, their softness assisted in being something for the active men to want and date. Perhaps people thought that was their most important part of being in the wasn't true, but people thought that. They actually thought WACS were whores. Nurses were treated differently, but in the old days, like WWII, WACS were not thought of highly enough.

It's different now. Or is it? I don't know for sure, but I understand that women are mistreated, raped, ignored, worried about, shot at, blown up...all while being women.

It wasn't for me. I learned a great deal and will never forget what I learned about the Army and war and the men and women who serve.
We owe them our very existence.
We should honor them every day.
We should thank God that they are willing to sacrifice themselves for their country if necessary.
They deserve so much more than our country seems to be willing to give them back.