Friends old and new on Thanksgiving
Time hangs heavy when you’ve moved away from all of your family and friends, especially on holidays. I decided the first Thanksgiving I found myself alone in Reno, that instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’d do something sensible on that special day.
While I worked the usual 8-to-5 weekday position, I had plenty of time to do something on the weekends and decided that I’d find work in a restaurant on my days off, especially holidays. It was easy; people who work waiting tables would just love to have off on a holiday to spend time with their families, and after working at the Blue Bell Inn in Pennsylvania I knew all too well how that felt.
But I was alone now and didn’t want to sit eating a turkey dinner all by myself. Off I went to find just the right place to work that first Thanksgiving in Reno. Actually it was fun. Everybody “eating out” appreciated the fact that those waiting on them were giving up their own time with their families and tips were special.
Not only did I make some extra money after the shift was over but I also sat down with the other help to enjoy a really fine turkey dinner. I wasn’t alone. I’m a people person. However, I sometimes like my own company. My son Doug, with whom I now live, didn’t mind being in a town where we didn’t know many people. Of course, he made friends with other employees at the telephone company where he worked.
Outside of that we were basically alone. Then I found a job and a new friend I’ll call Mary. She had a big family here, two sons and grandchildren. The first Thanksgiving we were friends she invited Doug and I to join the festivities with their family. Of course, I thought it would be just their family, but instead it included friends of theirs from town, friends of theirs from Reno and friends of theirs from Fernley.
We had quite a crowd. I asked, as I always do on such an occasion, what I could bring? All of the woman did that “you bring this and I’ll bring that” and we had a really wonderful time. Mary made her own special cranberry sauce which I told her I just didn’t like, it was too sour — we were really good friends so I could do that — and the next holiday I brought what she called “that awful gooey canned stuff.”
Each holiday we laughed about our different tastes. I loved her pumpkin pie and she loved my mince pie. For quite a few years the holidays went that way, and whenever I could I’d have their “clan” at our house. Then, as times change and things happen, one of her boys moved east and suddenly there was a divorce. He moved back to Fallon sans his wife and family and we had him to our home as often as possible.
Then another son moved to the mid-west and my friend and husband followed. The clan was no more. Life is a soap opera, friends, and sometimes things happen so unexpectedly it’s frightening. My friend Mary then lost a granddaughter, who was only in her 20s, and then the son who had been divorced became ill and he too passed away. We were all at a loss. Not long after that my friend Mary also passed away.
The holidays came and went and for a while, Doug and I ate those turkey dinners at our own little kitchen table. Soap opera or not, life went on for the two of us and we sold our home on Carson highway and moved closer to town. We got lucky when we found out what great new neighbors we had. Doug and the little schoolteacher who lives across the street from us became working buddies.
They built some patio additions to both homes and worked together to insulated both of their garages. In summer they get up on the roofs of both houses and repair loose singles. Now, on holidays like Thanksgiving, when her family arrives from California we all get together for those special meals. I have them over for some part of each holiday and we chain our hands around the table as we thank the Good Lord for all of our blessings.
At this special time of year, I wish the best for you. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.