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November 27th, 2008

Unusual Thanskgivings

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the US!

I am spending my Thanksgiving in Florence by heading off for another two hours of tutoring. The tutor is good, the knowledge is stuff I need and want to know; but it exercises mental muscles that have become atrophied of late. Well, humility is a fine sauce to pour over one's ego.

I am reminded of other unusual places or ways of celebrating Thanksgiving in my life. Two childhood memories: in 1957 (I think), I came in from playing on Wednesday afternoon to find that the rest of the family were packing the car for a Thanksgiving weekend trip to Washington DC. First I had heard about it. "Nobody tells me anything!" I am reported to have said. (In case you wonder who was the first to come up with that famous comment, I can lay claim to it.) I do remember driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike; touring the Eisenhower White House; walking down the stairs of the Washington Memorial. (The only time I ever did that. Once is enough.)

What I don't recall, but what has become part of our family lore, was walking up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial and my older brother Win (then 8 years old) looking in awe at the statue of Lincoln. As the story is told, he turned to my dad and asked, "Was he a giant?" (I think my dad said, "yes.")

Another Thanskgiving, probably one when the furnace went out (it tended to do that on Thanksgiving or Christmas mornings), my mom packed the cooked turkey and fixings into our wonderful all-aluminum picnic cooler, filled the can where the ice cubes usually went with boiling water, and carted the family off for a Thanksgiving feast at Kensington Park (outside Detroit). We kids thought it was great fun, if sort of chilly.

My chilliest Thanksgiving was of course in 1996, which I spent on the East Antarctic Plateau. We'd just arrived at the campsite where we would be living for six weeks (to collect meteorites). Ralph the team leader pulled out six frozen items from our food store which he promised were turkey pot pies. They were chili rellenos. We had a great party anyway. (And eventually collected 390 meteorites that season.)

Any other stories here of unusual Thanksgivings? 

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