Thursday, November 22, 2012

Old, I really mean, old friends

It's early yet, the sun is still hiding behind the east coast somewhere. The streets are still deserted except for the dedicated paper carriers, going from porch to porch, depositing huge packages of sale flyer's wrapped in the daily news. Geez! I about busted a button picking mine from the front stoop. Somewhere in Detroit and other big cities the floats and balloons are being prepared. Scurrying volunteers make last minute adjustments and streets are being cordoned off along the route so thousands of people can enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving day parade. Lights are coming on in kitchens everywhere, coffee is on, overnight travelers are arriving at their destinations just in time for a short nap before the festivities begin. Food is the center of most activity. So different than the first Thanksgiving hundreds of years ago when, what with all the hardships it was a blessing just to be alive. We sure do got it good these days don't we?

For over 30 years it has been my tradition on Thanksgiving mornings to visit old friends who live alone, bring a small gift, play some cards, tell a few jokes, listen to their woes and delights, share a donut or some other treat and then move on to the next. It was always interesting as I am sure you can understand. With old guys, we never quite know what they will say and sometimes what they will do. I've had cards thrown at me, wet marshmallows stuffed down the back of my neck, heard confessions of long held regrets, as well as hugs and tears of gratitude. It happened quite suddenly but all of a sudden those guys are gone in one way or another. Two moved to warmer climates, one moved way up north with his grandson and another passed away last week. This morning, after so many years of those cherished visits is definitely a learning experience. First on the agenda when I'm done here is a walk while saying my morning prayers. Maybe find someone to say Hi to.

On this Thanksgiving day I am reminded of what a treat it is to have the friends I do. Especially the old, crusty guys that so very much like to tell me what I've been doing wrong all my life. Truthfully, my life is good, yeah I do alright most of the time. However, those guys would inevitably find something to correct me on. If it wasn't my working too much, it was that I didn't work enough. If it wasn't my having a bit of a belly, it was that I should put on a bit more weight just in case I got sick. Honestly, a lot of times I felt there was just no pleasing them. At the end of the day though, I always felt good because they took time to share their perspective, wisdom and concern. When all was said and done, after whatever kind of lives they had, they brought me their consul. That consul helped make me a better person.

I am a man wearing many hats: Business owner, family man, friend, writer and, of course the annual silver treasure hunt. Sometimes it's difficult to get it all done. Those old guys validated my efforts and encouraged me along the way. There will be no  visiting them today but there will be time to remember them and be grateful. I began the visits because I felt it was doing a good thing for them because of their loneliness. It didn't take long to realize it was a great thing for me. There are a lot of things that end up like that aren't there? I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
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