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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday

Quintessentially American. Unlike Christmas, a religious holiday for which the religious aspects haven't been vitiated by the commercial.'.

A religious holiday that is all purpose. Catholic, protestant, Orthodox Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, tradition American Indian tribal religions. No matter what one's belief, everyone has someone to Thank. Even atheists and agnoistics can thank the people they love for being in their lives.

One childhood member that sticks is my dad taking me and my brothers to see Kezar Stadium in San Francisco to see the annual football game between St. Ignatius Prep, the Jesuit high school in The City, and Lowell, the top academic public high school in the City. Along with the dinners, and Mass, etc., it's one of those father/son things I carry with me.

During September, October, and November 2016 I faced breast cancer all alone. Thank God that I was fortunate enough not to have to go through what most women do go through. At the time I was volunteering for a breast cancer coalition and every year for Thanksgiving we would do something for ladies and their families that were financially strapped and in need. These ladies of the coalition took me for my surgery Because I could not be going through that alone. On Wednesday before Thanksgiving three boxes of food that was enough for a week was delivered to me by these ladies. It was cooked turkey, vegetables, stuffing, pies, cookies, cheese and crackers ... So much. I started to cry but I could not thank them enough for even thinking of me. They told me I was one of them whether I had cancer or not. I felt fortunate and blessed.

About 30 years ago, the whole extended family had gathered at my aunt's house for Thanksgiving. With Grandma and Grandpa, all my aunts, uncles and cousins there were a few dozen mouths to feed so each household brought dishes with them. My mom made a stack of pumpkin and pecan pies. Grandma baked a ham, one uncle made a huge batch of stuffing, another brought several pounds of mashed potatoes, ectera. My aunt whose house we had gathered in was responsible for the turkey.

After an afternoon of spending time together as a family the oven timer went off and we were ready to eat. We gathered around the several tables that we're pushed together so we could accommodate everyone and my aunt brought the turkey straight from the oven and onto the table. A few of us noticed that something didn't quite look right but that wasn't really important, it was having everyone together that really mattered. We all held hands and prayed together, thanking the Lord for allowing us to celebrate with each other and for the wonderful food we were about to eat.

My uncle, the one whose house we were in, disappeared into the kitchen to retrieve the electric carving knife he had bought specifically to carve the turkey that day. He plugged it in and we all turned our attention to him to watch him carve the bird. It was a pretty big turkey, over 20 pounds if I remember correctly, but something looked off about it. My uncle looked at it and said it definitely didn't look quite right. He set the electric carver down and began inspecting the bird. After a few seconds he burst into laughter.

In preparation for hosting the big day my aunt and uncle had done a lot of running around, gathering tables and chairs, setting up decorations and ensuring that everything was just right. Knowing that things would be hectic that day they planned ahead. In order to have the turkey done at the right time they did the math and calculated the exact time they needed to put it in the oven and had set an alarm accordingly. So that morning, they got up and ready and started the hard work of prepping their home for the 40+ of us coming to visit. When the alarm went off my aunt put the turkey in the oven and went back to preparations. When guests arrived my aunt and uncle could relax and socialize knowing they had planned everything down to the minute, except for one minor detail. Nobody had actually turned the oven on. The reason the turkey looked odd, and why my uncle burst out laughing, was that they had gathered the whole family together and brought out a raw turkey.

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