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Thanksgiving Will Never Be The Same
You could smell the turkey and ham from the yard as you approached Ruby's house on Thanksgiving morning and as the time neared noon, the place got busier than Grand Central Station in New York City. Kids and grand kids would be ferrying in bowls of potato salad, baked beans, hot buttered rolls and sweet potato casserole. Ruby directed household traffic and oven controls like a conductor at the symphony. Every surface in the vicinity of the kitchen would be brimming with delicious food. Jilda always camped out early down by the desert table eyeing the red velvet cake and the pumpkin pie. I could always scarf up a piece of ham or turkey without notice. This was all that kept me from diving face first onto the table of food and eating my way off with my bare hands.
This was a crucial time at Ruby and Sharky's house because there was a great deal of jockeying for position at the head of the line. "Michael, there's someone at the door could you open it please? I would say so innocently.".....as Michael left the front of the line, I would move up one more slot. SUCKER I would think to myself, and step a little closer to the plates and forks.
Now I'm all for saying the blessing, but on Thanksgiving, the shorter the better..."Good food, good meat, thank you Lord, now let's eat" is perfect for me. But on Thanksgiving, Sharky Phillips would start thanking the Lord for everyone and everything starting with the president of the United States (unless of course there was a republican in the White House) and would move right on down the list until he had thanked the Lord for the makers of the plastic forks and plates. He did this of course to torture us. I caught him looking around once during a particularly long Blessing. Everyone else had their heads bowed and eyes closed. I had my head bowed, but I had an eye on him. He had his head bowed, but had an eye open scanning the crowd watching us squirm. As our eyes met, he grinned a little and then trudged on thanking the makers of the beautiful table cloth and the tea kettle. I loved those Thanksgivings.
Sharky passed away in 1991 and things changed. The food was still as good, and the tea as sweet but there was an empty spot in our hearts and at the dinner table. Our food has never been properly blessed since then.
This Thanksgiving will be the first time since 1968 when Jilda and I started dating (except for the two years I was in the military) that we have not spent Thanksgiving with her family.
Jilda's mom Ruby passed away earlier this month. Her house is dark and empty now and the only smells that linger are that of the cedar chest and a hint of the Shalimar perfume that she wore.
The old saying goes "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," and as we think about Thanksgiving, we are at a loss about what to do. We've had offers from people asking us to join them for the holiday, but no amount of hospitality could ever replace the experience of those Thanksgivings and it still seems a little too soon to try to replace them. We have still have a great family and great friends that will help us get through.
I would like to share some advice with you this Thanksgiving: enjoy every sound, every smell, every taste and every hug because life moves quickly. Things can change in the blink of an eye. We all have a lot to be thankful for. This year, I'm thankful that I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving all those years at Ruby and Sharky's house.


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