I once spent Thanksgiving in a laundromat, washing one of two items I owned...I'd panhandled for the quarters and even though I hadn't eaten in a couple days I just had to get clean. I was young and it was the nineteen sixties and I was one of hundreds of thousands of other young people that went out into the world to explore without any means of supporting themselves. I can't say I regret it because I think life is for living, and at the time that was the only way I knew how to get out there and experience the world.
I also remember a Thanksgiving that found my husband and I traveling through Texas on our scoot...I can't remember the name of the little town right off the interstate that we pulled into but I do remember that they had just had a major industrial accident involving their oil wells and everyone there was grateful for surviving.
Then there was our first Thanksgiving on our own property in Alaska. It was like -20 below zero and dark as hades and the generator chugged away while I cooked the turkey in a combo microwave/convection oven and cooked everything else on top of the wood stove.
I remember celebrating Thanksgiving twice in British Columbia, just below Yukon Territories. We had a converted bus with a blown transmission and had to sit in a small town at the edge of the Rockies while we waited for it to be rebuilt. The Canadians have their own Thanksgiving in early October, they enjoy turkey too, but it sure was odd having fries and gravy with it. The people in this town were wonderful. The repair shop gave us a key to their shop (!) and let us stay parked inside the whole time. We met some fellow bikers and were invited to their home for Thanksgiving and there I was introduced to sage as a most wonderful complement to turkey.
Then there was the year that we lost our home to fire on Labor day weekend in Fairbanks Alaska. My husband's boss had given us a wannigan for a temporary shelter (that's a 3 sided porch that acts to keep the cold out when you go in and out of your home in frigid temps). Right after the fire my husband shot a moose...it was subsistence hunting for food and that moose is all we ate for the whole winter (he worked seasonal and all our supplies for the winter had gone up in smoke). So it was moose steaks that Thanksgiving but what I remember most is that we had put out snares for rabbit (moose was getting old quick). I went out to check and horror of horrors, a rabbit had been caught and was still alive. I called my husband out and we worked together to set it free...I mean really, it was Thanksgiving and he/she belonged home with their family. You know, we never set a snare again.
I also remember a time long ago, in a different life when I was younger, of packing up a bunch of turkey sandwiches in waxed paper and driving down into the bowery section of town and finding homeless people to give them to.
There's a lot more memories like that in this old brain but I guess the point is that Thanksgiving is not just about turkey. It's about being thankful for whatever you have when you have it and knowing that the threads of your life brought you to this Thanksgiving. It's also about being grateful in both times of plenty and times of want...sometimes just having a clean outfit is something to be grateful for.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family and to all of those I may not know but still wish the best for, may everyone find something to be thankful for.