A Thanksgiving Birthday

I started fulfilling my Saturday obligation by writing a post about an experience which I had with an order fulfillment company. I hit page six before I realized that no one wants to read six-plus pages of a story of little interest to anyone other than myself, particularly over Thanksgiving Day weekend. Accordingly, I herewith present a much shorter story and a much better one.

Thanksgiving Day landed on my granddaughter Samantha’s sixth birthday this year. We accordingly had the traditional holiday dinner but wrapped it around the context of her special day. That meant turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and the like served out on a Spongebob Squarepants tablecloth with paper plates and napkins to match. She loved it, but enjoyed her presents even more. Her requests were somewhat outside of what one might expect from someone who regards kindergarten as a police state and has become a person of interest in the principal’s office. Samantha wanted “stuff to paint with.” Stuff, she got. Such stuff consisted of an easel with a dry erase board on one side, a blackboard on the other, a paper roller and cutter, shelves for paint cups, brushes, and of course more tempura paints than I can identify (I am colorblind, so that’s not a major deal, but she still received lots of paint). She painted all day long, and now every wall on the first floor of our house is covered with artwork, two or three layers deep, in some places.
Samantha asked for something else, however, which she also received: notebooks. Spiral notebooks, of all shapes and sizes. Done. I never thought to ask her why until she opened them. “I want to think of stories and write them down,” she said. What can you say to that? If I was physically capable of turning cartwheels I’d still be doing them. I don’t need to tell this group why, but I will: you can take all of the videogames and YouTube shorts and Facebook pages and all of the minutes that people spend with them and despair of the total, but if six year-old girls still dream of writing then there is hope for the future. And that made my holiday.
I certainly don’t think that I was the only one who had an uplifting and defining moment the Thursday last. What was yours? Or — unlikely as it might seem — did you witness or experience something on Black Friday that warmed your heart, or gave you hope? We’d love to read your story. Some of us might even need to. Please share.

8 thoughts on “A Thanksgiving Birthday

  1. The whole concept of Black Friday is creepy, from its vague intimations of the Plague, to its inherent ability to turn otherwise respectful shoppers into drunken Oakland Raiders fans.

    Thus, yestermorning, driving with my wife to a garden store to buy some poinsettias, we passed an electronics outlet that had opened at midnight, the lot packed with cars, and I felt the joy of not being there.

    And there’s nothing quite like six-year-old hope. Thanks for letting us in on that.

  2. My husband’s best friend flew in yesterday and was able to meet our 9 month old son for the first time. He works for NCIS and was in Brazil for almost a year.

    Icing on the cake was he was able to pick up all five of his kids for the holiday. Normally one of the ex-wives won’t let him have one or two of the kids, so that’s the first time they were all in the same place in a long time.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Good story, Joe.

    I was one of those children who dreamed of writing at a young age. In grade school I wrote serials, a chapter at a time, and they got passed around to students and teachers who all raved about them. As I grew older, Life intruded, including Viet Nam, and my bestselling writer days got pushed aside. Now, 50 years later, I’m trying to start again.

    As for Black Friday, I worked as a Wal-Mart assistant manager for 18 years. So 18 times I got up at 3 a.m. to be ready for the things. I’ve been pushed aside, trampled, hit, kicked, and cussed out in multiples of 18 times. One year my most trusted employee helped six people steal expensive cameras.

    So after I left Wal-Mart, I vowed to never leave the house on Black Friday. Except last night, I had to pick up a prescription, and my wife had to get one thing for her mother, who lives with us. As I waited for my wife on a bench by the entrance, a woman about my age sat on the bench to catch her breath. She had a cart full of shopping bags and was headed out to her car.

    She turned to me, smiled, and said “Isn’t this great?”

    I looked at her, thinking Bah! Humbug!

    Then she said, “The Christmas season is finally here. I lost my husband to cancer in September and I really needed this.”

    My wife came up and we left. I walked out much smaller than I had been. At the door was an old man ringing the Salvation Army bell.

    “God Bless you, sir,” he said.

    I dropped a twenty in his kettle and said, “He already has, freind, He already has.”


  4. Lovely, lovely blog post. Yes, there is hope for the world when a 6 year old wants notebooks. May she find many stories across her life.

    And @Dave Williams–your post brought tears to my eyes.

    I don’t do black friday. Never have, never will. I don’t like to shop under the best of circumstances and frankly, I’m over having a lot of things in my life. 2 years ago, right after thanksgiving, we fled our burning house in bare feet and pajamas. That we all survived (even the dog) was a miracle. What we gained afterwards was a huge appreciation for the kindness and generosity of the people around us, and the understanding of what was and was not important.

  5. Thanks, Julie. Today we have been blessed with an entire set of new pictures as well. We need some new walls.

    Jim, I find something medieval in the whole concept as well. I can’t hear the term “Black Friday” without the echo of “Bring out your dead” right behind it. I do all of my shopping online these days.

    That’s a great story, Elizabeth, on a couple of counts. I hope your friend enjoys his visit with you and of course with his children.I’m glad they could all get together.

    Dave, now that you have stopped writing please don’t stop. Based on what you shared today you have the gift. What a beautiful story.

    LJ, my heart goes out to you. I had a similar experience several years ago — though by no means as severe — when I set fire to my kitchen during Thanksgiving. It was a near thing. Everything can be replaced but people. I hope this holiday is better for you.

  6. That’s a wonderful story about your granddaughter, Joe! Thank you for sharing it with us. Thanksgiving found me in Taipei and Hong Kong, where no one was interested in the holiday. Christmas, though, is being ushered in with gusto. Skyscrapers are adorned with neon decorations, and the stores are alive with carols. I didn’t see any evidence of Black Friday except on the news, fortunately. I am allergic to shopping in general, and Black Friday in particular fills me with horror. I’m more of a Cyber Monday gal, ordering what I need from behind my screen. The more our society runs amok with consumerism and materialism, the more I retreat. Hopefully I won’t become like one of those Victorian recluses, holed up with many cats.

  7. Allergic to shopping, Kathryn?! You and my wife must have been separated at birth. You’ll both live to a ripe age for your aversion, I’m sure. I LOVE shopping online. Technological addictions aside, it’s almost restful.

    Safe journeys to you.

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