Well, we are now entering the Holiday season. In America, the first holiday is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is when the Pilgrims gave thanks to God for their first harvest. It is also the time when extended families get together from all over the United States and beyond to gather for a Thanksgiving meal. It’s a day of remembrance, thanking God for both country and family. Allow me to share one very special Thanksgiving with you from my youth.
Let’s go back to 1962 in Phoenix. I was 13 years old. Dinosaurs and muscle cars were still roaming the earth. It was the first Thanksgiving celebrated in our new home built on top of Moon Mountain here in Phoenix. Thanksgiving in our family was a big deal. Most of the Delph clan would assemble and then partake of the annual Thanksgiving turkey meal prepared by my mother and our relatives, some of the best cooks on earth. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, heaps of cousins, siblings and parents were all there. And so was our favorite dog and the family mascot, Socrates.
Socrates was a gigantic standard dachshund, the original model, he wasn’t bred down to the size of a hot dog. He looked more like a black and tan basset hound. His low profile made negotiating the large lava rocks on Moon Mountain quite a challenge. He needed a skid pan. However, the distinctive I remember most about Socrates was his appetite. This dog lived to eat, and he would eat almost anything. My brother, sister, and I tested his eating limits more than once with orange peels, olives, grapes or anything else resembling what comes off a kitchen counter. He passed every test with flying colors.
When the Thanksgiving meal was finished, some would gather in the living room, some would play football in the backyard and some would watch American football on television. The kitchen was deserted. It was the perfect opportunity for a hungry dog in stealth mode. Somehow, Socrates ascended to the heights of the kitchen counter, clapping on to the former twenty-six-pound turkey carcass. Socrates embraced more than the moment if you know what I mean.
Before I tell you the end of the story, let’s imagine what Socrates was thinking on this glorious Thanksgiving Day. “I know what day this is. This is Thanksgiving. My family is thanking me for being such a good hound. They are thanking me for the robbers I have chased off and the miles I have walked on this mountain with cactus on my belly. They are thanking me for how I have raised three children. They had their dinner, now I get my dinner. It’s my reward. It’s my Thanksgiving too! There’s gold in them thar’ bones and I’m grateful. I’m as thankful as those pilgrims long ago.” As far as I know, he didn’t take the time to pray a Thanksgiving prayer.
“Oh, I’d better go find a safe place to eat to have my Thanksgiving meal. I know, the best place in the house is down the hall in the bedroom farthest away from the kitchen. I’ll eat this culinary delight under Ed’s bed. I’d better go quick. I don’t want to lose any of the juice leaking out of this lovely carcass. What a Thanksgiving. What a reward. I’m so-so-so doggone thankful!”
Well, all good things must come to an end. Socrates was discovered, under my bed, with the carcass. All we had to do was follow the grease trail on my mother’s new white carpet down the longest hall in the house. Mind you, Socrates put up a valiant effort in keeping his Thanksgiving dinner. He went down fighting. As I recall, this was the only time he ever bit my father. At that moment the turkey carcass was a higher priority than the relationship with the Alpha. In the end, Socrates lost his Thanksgiving turkey.
A few days later everything was back to normal. Socrates was eating Skippy dog food again. The carpet was cleaned. Dad and Socrates were on petting terms. But the most important thing about that Thanksgiving was the memories made. Memories of family and friends and those no longer with us. Memories of Thanksgivings in times much less complicated than now. Memories of love and growing up. And memories of one overweight and frustrated dachshund named Socrates and his mauled turkey carcass.
This Thanksgiving try not to focus on what you don’t have. Focus on what you have and be thankful. The pilgrims did. The scriptures say in First Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God.” Don’t be like the critical person who says, “This is the first day of your life but so was yesterday and look how you messed it up.” Be like Arthur Rubinstein who said, “I have found if you love life, then life will love you (and thank) you back.” That’s the attitude of Thanksgiving.
By the way, when Socrates went to sleep on that Thanksgiving evening in 1962, I bet you he was thinking, “I wonder what I’ll get for Christmas!”