Thanksgiving has always been a unique holiday, with an unfortunate emphasis on eating. I confess to enjoying turkey and pumpkin pie, but for me the holiday has traditionally been important as a family gathering. When Joe and I were young, we went to my father’s home in Quincy and celebrated being with his family. When we both had our own families, it was a great treat to get together at my mother’s home.
This year I will spend the holiday with Elizabeth, Mike, and Rachael; I am sure it will be a very pleasant day and the culinary portion of it will be handled admirably. I am thankful for them and the way they take care of me. Family is certainly at the top of the list of things for which I am thankful.
I am thankful for my immediate family — our three children, their spouses, and our five grandchildren, each a very special person — and for our extended family. I am thankful for my brother Joe and his wife Pauline and their equally special children and grandchildren. I am thankful for my wife’s four Maddy nephews. It was her experience with them as young children that convinced her that she too should have a family, a conviction that eventually led to our marriage. I am particularly thankful for the fifty-two years we had together.
I am thankful for my current good health, particularly in light of the problems I had early in the year. That experience certainly reminded me how fragile life is and how precious our health is.
I am thankful for the mantel clock in my living room; its Westminster chimes every quarter hour remind me of my boyhood home on Lafayette Street and the chimes on the Grandfather’s clock in our living room. I suspect that’s another way of saying I am thankful for my parents and our life together.
I am thankful for flannel shirts and bulky sweaters and the cozy way I feel when November comes and the weather suddenly changes, and for the comforter and stack of quilts on my bed. Conversely I will be thankful for short-sleeved shirts and lightweight sheets when Spring returns. We are lucky to live in an area that has four distinct seasons, each just short enough to end before it becomes overbearing.
I am thankful for the unsung service people in my life – Gary, my barber; Natalie, the devoted waitress at Bob Evans for our BHS Brunch Club; Diane, “the hockey fan”, my favorite Giant Eagle check-out specialist; the girls who clean my house twice a month; and a host more of faceless people who enrich my life.
I am thankful for my love of reading, for the Book Club, and for the fellowship of its members. The variety of interests in the group leads us to reading many things that I would have missed otherwise. In addition, the erudite discussion of each book invariably adds insight that I would have missed.
I am thankful for our Bridgeville High School Brunch Club and our semi-monthly get-togethers, dominated by nostalgia about “the good old days”. At our most recent brunch I was impressed by the fact that I was younger than four of my companions – an unusual occurrence these days.
I am thankful for dissent and extremist views and for the rational consideration of them; otherwise there would be no progress in the evolution of our society. I am even more thankful for moderates who provide this consideration. I was delighted at the recent passage of the infrastructure bill and the contribution of bipartisan moderates to it.
I am thankful for routine and the ability to perform regular tasks reflexively. Nonetheless I am also thankful for perturbations, things that upset my routine and bring variety into my life.
I am thankful for all the organizations that entertain and educate me – the Bridgeville Area Historical Society, the Woodville Experience, and the Oliver Miller Homestead, for their historical programs; public radio for bringing me Phil Atteberry (WQLN), Mike Plaskett and Dale Abraham (WESA), and Jim Cunningham (WQED); and the public libraries for sponsoring programs by Abby Mendelson, Glenn Flickinger, and Tom Roberts.
I am thankful to be able to live in an old-fashioned neighborhood where the kids play hockey in the street, build forts in the woods, and walk to school. Our annual street party this year kept us sitting around a campfire till 11:00 pm, much past this nonagenarian’s bed time. I am the oldest resident on our street, both by tenure and age.
I am thankful that enough people have been vaccinated that it is now possible to return to Heinz Hall and enjoy the Pittsburgh Symphony. We have had season tickets for the Symphony for sixty years – missing last year was a disappointment. I am especially thankful for the recent opportunity we had to see the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra perform at Heinz Hall with my granddaughter Rachael as Co-Concertmaster. How proud her grandmother would have been!
I am thankful that I can continue to be involved, passively, in Pitt’s Civil Engineering Senior Design Project program, as a mentor and as an outside reviewer. Each term it is rewarding to see these young men and women demonstrate their capability of entering the real world as engineers-in-training.
I have thankful for modern conveniences – flush toilets, central heating, microwave ovens, etc. — and for the technology that produced the Information Age and its remarkable consequences. It’s a toss-up whether my I-Phone or my laptop is my most valuable possession.
Most of all I am thankful for the opportunity to scribble a few lines each week on whatever topic currently interests me and to be able to send them out to those of you on my mailing list. It is particularly rewarding to me each time each time I hear from one of you. Let’s hope we can continue to communicate this way for a little longer.
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