ANOTHER HAPPY SAD DAY

Listen to Jim’s podcast:

http://jimreedbooks.com/mp3/thanksgivinghappiestsaddest.mp3

or read on…

Here is a true story I re-tell every Thanksgiving, just

to remind myself and you that everything that really

matters is right before us, all the time. Here ‘tis:

.

THANKSGIVING:

THE HAPPIEST SAD DAY OF THE YEAR

.

The saddest thing I ever saw: a small, well-dressed elderly woman dining alone at Morrison’s Cafeteria, on Thanksgiving Day.

.

Oh there are many other sadnesses you can find if you look hard enough, in this variegated world of ours, but a diner alone on Thanksgiving Day makes you feel really fortunate, guilty, smug, relieved, tearful, grateful…it brings you up short and makes you time-travel to the pockets of joy and cheer you experienced in earlier days…

.

Crepe paper. Lots of crepe paper. And construction paper. Bunches of different-colored construction paper. In my childhood home in Tuscaloosa, my Thanksgiving Mother always made sure we creative and restless kids had all the cardboard, scratch paper, partly-used tablets, corrugated surfaces, unused napkins, backs of cancelled checks, rough brown paper from disassembled grocery bags, backs of advertising letters and flyers…anything at all that we could use to make things. Yes, dear 21st-Century young’uns, we kids back then made things from scraps.

We could cut up all we wanted, and cut up we did.

.

We cut out rough rectangular sheets from stiff black wrapping paper and glued the edges together to make Pilgrim hats. Old belt buckles were tied to our shoelaces—we never could get it straight, whether the Pilgrims were Quakers, or vice versa, or neither. But it always seemed important to put buckles on our shoes and sandals, wear tubular hats and funny white paper collars, and craft weird-looking guns that flared out like trombones at one end. More fun than being a Pilgrim/Quaker was being an Indian—a true blue Native American, replete with bare chest, feathers shed by neighborhood doves, bows made of crooked twigs and kite string, arrows dulled at the tip by rubber stoppers and corks, and loads of Mother’s discarded rouge and powder and lipstick and mashed cranberries smeared here and there on face and body, to make us feel like the Indians we momentarily were.

.

Sister Barbara and Mother would find some long autumnal-hued dresses for the occasion, but they were seldom seen outside the kitchen for hours on end, while the eight-course dinner was under construction.

.

There was always an accordion-fold crepe paper turkey centerpiece on display, hastily bought on sale at S.H. Kress, just after last year’s Thanksgiving season. It looked nothing like my Aunt Mattie’s turkeys in her West Blocton front yard. And for some reason, we ate cranberry products on that day and that day only. Nobody ever thought about cranberries the other 364 days! And those lucky turkeys were lucky because nobody ever thought of eating them except at Thanksgiving and Christmas. They were home free the rest of the year!

.

Now, back into the time machine of just a few years ago.

.

It is Thanksgiving Day. My wife and son and granddaughter are all out of the country. Other family and relatives are either dead or gone, or just plain tied up with their own lives in other states, doing things other than having Thanksgiving Dinner with me.

.

My brother, Tim, my friends Tim Baer and Don Henderson and I decide that we will have to spend Thanksgiving Dinner together, since each of us is bereft of wife or playmate or relative, this particular holiday this particular year.

.

So, we wind up at Morrison’s Cafeteria, eating alone together, going through the line and picking out steamed-particle-board turkey, canned cranberries, thin gravy, boxed mashed potatoes and some bakery goods whose source cannot easily be determined.

.

But we laugh at our situation and each other, tell jokes, cut up a bit, and thank our lucky stars that this one Thanksgiving Dinner is surely just a fluke. We’ll be trying that much harder, next year, to not get blind-sided by the best holiday of the year, Thanksgiving being the only holiday you don’t have to give gifts or reciprocate gifts or strain to find the correct gifts.

Left to right: Tim Reed, Tim Baer, Jim Reed lining up for Thanksgiving.

Don Henderson is behind the camera.

.

.

On Thanksgiving holidays ever since, I make sure I’m with family and friends, and now and then I try to set a place at the table of my mind, for any little old lady or lone friend who might want to join us…for the second saddest thing I’ve ever seen is a happy family lustily enjoying a Thanksgiving feast together and forgetting for a moment about all those lone diners in all the cafeterias of the world who could use a kind glance and a smile

.

© 2017 A.D. by Jim Reed

 

jim@jimreedbooks.com

http://www.jimreedbooks.com

http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

Twitter and Facebook

 

WHACKING AWAY AT THE DAILY NEWS

Listen to Jim’s podcast:
or read his story below: 
WHACKING AWAY AT THE DAILY NEWS
Whack!
.
My brow wrinkles at this sudden disembodied noise.
.
Whack!
.
There it goes again. Now my wrinkled brow is joined by grimaced jaw. What is the source of that annoying sound?
.
Whack!
.
That does it. I stop watching for the forever traffic light to give me permission to proceed. I scour the concrete asphalted landscape of Downtown to see what’s what.
.
Whack!
.
There it is. It’s emanating from a metal newspaper vending machine on the corner.
.
Whack!
.
A woman of indeterminate age is whacking her cigarette pack on the metal surface while bending double to read the visible front page through clear hard plastic.
.
Whack!
.
As she pounds the pack she artfully twirls it around so that one whack is top, the next bottom, just to make sure the cigarettes within compress themselves evenly.
.
Whack!
.
She continues to read, continues to bow, oblivious to all else, all others.
.
Whack!
.
Does she even know why she performs this ritual, or is it just something she’s always seen others do?
.
Whack!
.
Those are going to be some densely packed smokes, don’t you think?
.
Whack!
.
When I drive away she’s still reading the paper word for word, still whacking away, still doubled over.
.
Just another mysteriously familiar activity of daily living Downtown in the naked city.
.
This may not be the wackiest thing I’ll experience today, but for the moment it is definitely the whackiest
.

I DONATED A SPECIAL MOMENT TO YOU. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Listen to Jim’s podcast:

http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/ijustdonatedaspecialmomenttoyou.mp3

or read his tale:

I JUST DONATED A SPECIAL MOMENT TO YOU. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Long long ago in a neighborhood not so far thataway…
 I am slumped over my plate at a diner or a cafe or an eatery or a bar stool counter or, you know, one of those special family places…and I am sopping and munching and slurping—because this is the kind of kitchen that allows me to be decades younger and somewhat noisy while at the same moment, polite and friendly.
My Mama would not have had it any other way, as long as I mind my manners.
The fragrances float about me so that, even with my eyes closed to the menu and the tableware, I can still tell you what’s cooking, what’s fresh, what’s leftover, what’s everybody’s favorite.
It’s an Alabama diner, so everything is familiar and predictable and delightfully surprising all at once.
There’s meatloaf and fried chicken and crusted catfish surrounded by real mashed potatoes and gravy, pickled beets, blackeyed peas, fried okra and boiled okra and okrafied tomatoes and corn muffins and cole slaw and iceberg lettuce parts and dressings and catsup and salt and pepper and pepper sauce and steak sauce and butterbeans and dumplings and mushy slow-cooked greens and lots, lots more.
Guaranteed to kill you prematurely, but with a big, safisfied smile on your face and an extra notch on your belt.
The cashier over yonder is totallng up a big order with a pencil before she enters it into the register. She is licking the just-applied chapstick coating from her lips.
A customer walks in from the encroaching outdoor heat, fanning her hand in front of her face as if to indicate that she’s being cooled off. The cashier taking more orders has a momentary break and is again laving lip balm onto her mouth while another woman is sitting there, having just ordered…and is overwhelmed by the fragrances just described.
“Ooh man,  this place smells way too good,” I say. “Think I’ll dab a bit of sauce behind each ear and go out into the world.”
She grins at me and at a guy whose t-shirt reads, “Parental discretion…contents something something…”
I prepare to settle my tab and sally forth into the heat. The cashier licks at the balm a bit more. Life is complete for a few seconds.
There, I just donated a moment to you.
You’re welcome