Before continuing with this discourse on tomorrow’s annual feast of gratitude, I remind you that Thanksgiving is the only American holiday where we eat the mascot.

My best memory of Thanksgiving goes back to the first of those holiday meals I ate with my bride in 1971.

It was special because it was the first time I knew for sure I would get to eat in the big room with the grownups.

Also, I didn’t have to find a place to dump that awful bowl of oyster stew we always had for the evening meal at my grandmother’s house.

With many ties back east, my mother’s family usually observed their oyster stew tradition at Thanksgiving. Folks in Kentucky and further south often do it on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.

I like most seafood today but back then I couldn’t deal with that salty, chewy meat swimming in milk and butter. I also avoided oyster dressing. But I’m going to be brave and try oyster stew again this year.

We Americans travel all over the U.S. and elsewhere to spend Thanksgiving with our families. But I’ve learned that whether we enjoy it or endure it depends on us.

One of my aunts liked to tell us that the stuffing that came out of the bird was called that for obvious reasons.

Other food that looked like stuffing but didn’t come out of the turkey should be called dressing, she said.

A great-uncle always told us that we get turkey once a year for Thanksgiving but on Election Day we get turkeys for four years.

One year someone put a bumper sticker on the front door with this message: “It’s hard to soar with the eagles when you live with a bunch of turkeys.” Before I ran away from home and got married at the age of nearly 29, my relatives teased me about bringing different girlfriends each year to Thanksgiving. My favorite uncle never joined them in that teasing. In fact, he would always wink at me. He had been married four times.

My wife and I look forward to having about 30 folks with us tomorrow for Thanksgiving.

Wonder of wonders, we often find that loving and tolerating can happen at the same time.

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@ or by telephone at 356-0912.

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