Flashback to 1971.
I was six years old living in Santa Barbara, California. My parents were good friends with a house full of self-proclaimed hippies directly across the street from our home.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories was the time we celebrated with them. Peter, Lance, Paula, Nick, all their friends and friends of their friends, including some really far-out guy who never took his sunglasses off and always seemed to be wagging his tongue like a dog. He might have been under the influence of something.
It was a Thanksgiving like no other I can remember. Lots of hair, music, smoke, laughter among men, women and a few scattered children like me and my sister. We were happy to be part of the scene.
Lance made that happen. He had a game for us to play. He called us over to explain the rules. Lance lived in his van with his dog and let us eat M&Ms whenever he babysat. So we liked him. A lot. And if he had a game to teach us, we wanted to learn.
He took out a glass, laid a napkin across it and then placed a dime in the middle. Then he handed us an incense stick (naturally). We took turns with the incense, dabbing at the napkin, hoping we were not the one to make the dime fall into the glass.
When I saw this hydrangea with the black spots and cinged edges, that’s all it took for me to remember one of the best Thanksgivings I ever had. I don’t remember who won that game, but I do remember going to bed very content, full and tired.
And no wonder. I had taken my first ride on the back of Peter’s motorcycle that day. We went all around Santa Barbara and along the Pacific ocean. I wore a heavy helmet.I love this time of year even though it is a particularly difficult time for me right now. Some changes are coming. In two weeks, however, I’ll be driving up to Maine with my three children and I’ll be reunited with my parents, sisters and their families. It’s been too long since all of us were together.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and be thankful for what we have. It’s a chance to break bread and share some love. I’m still grateful for that day in Santa Barbara, where the sun was shining, my parents were laughing and my sister and I decided neither of us was going down.
I just might have to whip out some incense and napkins and teach my nephews and nieces a new game…