Dear Amy: As Thanksgiving approaches and we are setting the table for three instead of 14, I took a moment for a reality check.
I remembered when my daughters were in college and clued me into the Wednesday night tradition of going to a bar to fortify oneself for the strain of being with all those relatives.
I remembered those disastrous Thanksgivings, with the barbecued turkey that meant no gravy for Grandpa’s mashed potatoes.
Or the year the dining room table, extended with all its leaves, started to sag in the middle and my brother dove underneath to support it while yelling for C-clamps.
I remembered the horrendous travel problems, like when my sister was five hours late because of traffic in the pre-cellphone days and my mother suggested calling the state police every 10 minutes for accident reports.
Perhaps, it will be a good year to quietly laugh at those Thanksgivings past and accept the pause in the tradition this year.
Perhaps, reflecting with gratitude about each person you are missing will be like a palate-cleansing course in the meal of life. Keep trusting that there will be a bigger turkey next year.
And thank you, Amy, for all the wisdom and compassion you dish out!
Dear Thankful: Your beautiful note perfectly conveys the complicated feelings many Americans are having this Thanksgiving.
Your email also arrived on the morning of my Aunt Jean’s death. Because of the pandemic, her daughters could only visit her through a window until hospice care liberated them and they could be with her in person at the very end.
Aunt Jean was the last of the legendary "Mighty Queens of Freeville," four fierce and funny women whose influence shows up in this column regularly.
And Aunt Jean always made the gravy.
Yes, the groaning feast table will be much lighter this year. But I hope your message will inspire families to count our many blessings, remember with joy those who can’t be with us, and promise to put aside our differences when we finally feast together in person.
This year, as I do every year, I will be at the little church in my hometown, cooking and serving a Thanksgiving meal to people who would not have one, otherwise. We’re doing a "take out" service, and I’ll be making the gravy.
Dear Amy: I live in a very small community. In my circle of friends, we’ve agreed to not discuss politics. It has kept the peace and preserved our good relationships.
However, the fact that one of our friends insists on flying a large Confederate flag is becoming impossible to ignore.
A couple of brave folks have asked about the significance and have been lectured with monologues about Southern history and being a proud American.
My husband told the couple that flying the flag would be akin to my flying the Nazi Swastika flag to "honor" my mother’s German heritage (she was in a concentration camp as a young teen). This reasoning was dismissed.
Neighbors have emailed and asked for the flag to be removed, and the emails are proudly displayed in the couple’s home as "Joke of the Week."
Neighbors on both sides have moved within the last month.
What can we say or do? It seems that they are firmly entrenched, and we should just give it up and lose the friendship. Your wisdom?
— Fair and Balanced
Dear Fair and Balanced: Backyard bullhorns usually lose their volume when people start ignoring their cries for attention. Flying their Confederate flag is one thing. Lecturing you on its "heritage" interpretation is another thing. Posting emails questioning their choice in order to deride the people writing them is the last thing.
Yes, they are firmly entrenched. Yes, you should give up trying to communicate with them about this, and yes, if their lives are now all about this flag, then your friendship will die.
You might also want to exercise your own First Amendment right and fly the good old Stars and Stripes (if you don’t already), and post a Black Lives Matter sign if you want to, demonstrating that this country is supposed to be big enough, and broad enough, for everyone.
Dear Amy: "Curious, in Silver Spring, MD" wondered why people consume alcohol, noting that it is a dangerous drug.
Thank you for standing up for legal-age people’s right to consume alcohol, safely.
— Safe Drinker
Dear Drinker: Alcohol is indeed a dangerous drug, causing untold damage to people around the world. But yes, it can be consumed safely.