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The Jacksons – for Oct. 16, 2008

Some years it’s easier to be thankful than others. It’s a bit tough this year. As summers go, it’s been a less-than-memorable one, at least in the weather department. Also in the football department, if you happen to be a Blue Bomber fan. Then there’s the economic chaos engulfing the United States and threatening our stock portfolios and investments (ha ha ha). But worst of all, we have to live through the Thanksgiving season with an election campaign going on. Every day we’re treated to the spectacle of a gaggle of party leaders scampering around the country sniping and bickering about everything from the environment to the economy to puffin fertilizer. Yet, strangely enough, these same party leaders seem absolutely united in one ideological position: that the best election platform is one that has absolutely nothing in it for farmers.

“Still,” said Andrew Jackson as he sat down at the Thanksgiving table with his family, “we have much to be thankful for.”

“Like what?” said Jennifer as she slid into the chair next to her father’s.

“Like we can still afford turkey,” said Andrew, picking up the carving knife and surveying the beautifully browned bird on the platter in front of him. “I may not be a fan of the poultry industry, but I have to admit Thanksgiving and Christmas would not be the same without them.”

“No kidding,” said Brady, who was already in his usual chair next to Jennifer. “I for one am deeply grateful that the Pilgrims weren’t vegetarians.”

“How come you’re not a fan of the poultry industry, Dad?” Jennifer wanted to know.

Andrew thought about that for a second.

“Your dad’s just jealous,” said Rose, laughing, before Andrew could answer.

Andrew scoffed. “It’s the teenage memories,” he said. “Earning my spending money catching chickens for Art Brown. I got paid a buck-fifty an hour, and the ceiling in Art’s barn was only five feet high, and then there were beams that came down another six inches lower than that. I must have smacked my head on those beams 20 times every night I was there.”

“Some people probably learned to duck after the first 50 or 60 times,” said Brady.

“Anyway, Dad,” Randy chimed in from across the table, “when I complained about catching chickens you said it was character building.”

“And so it is, Randy,” said Rose. “It built your father’s and it’s why he’s such a miserable character.”

Andrew laughed. “And I am thankful I have a loving wife who is a constant source of joy and inspiration.”

“Everybody should have one,” said Rose.

“I got mine,” said Randy, leaning over and planting a kiss on the cheek of the dark-haired woman in the chair next to his. Jackie blushed and smiled at the same time.

“Brady’s got some challenges ahead of him in that department,” said Brady’s girlfriend Amanda. “Considering who he’s dating,” she added.

“Oooh,” said Jennifer, “are you guys gonna get married?”

There was a moment of slightly awkward silence.

“I’m thankful for my girlfriend who never brings that question up,” said Brady.

Amanda grinned. “Ditto,” she said.

Jennifer looked disappointed. “You guys are no fun,” she said.

“Hey, kiddo,” said Andrew. “Marriage is

serious business. It’s not about fun.”

“Well, thanks for sharing that sentiment with us honey,” said Rose.

“Good one, Dad,” said Randy. “I see you can still get that size 13 foot in your mouth.”

“It’s easy,” said Andrew. “It’s like falling off a bike. Once you learn how, you never forget.”

“Speaking of fun,” said Brady, “eating would be fun right about now. And I don’t think that turkey is going to carve itself.”

“Right,” said Andrew. “Sorry. Lost my focus there for a moment. Help yourselves to the potatoes and salad and vegetables and the dinner rolls. I’ll have this bird ready in a minute.”

“I forgot the milk,” said Rose getting up and heading for the fridge. There was a lull in the conversation as people concentrated on the feast laid on the table before them. Rose returned and set the jug of milk on the table, then stood for a moment surveying the scene.

“Thank you,” she said. “Everybody.” “You’re welcome,” said Andrew. “I think.

For what exactly?”

Rose sat down. “For being here,” she

said. “For being a good family. For making me happy. For being nice to each other.” She looked at Randy who had the gravy ladle poised above the heaping mound of mashed potatoes on his plate. “For not taking all the gravy,” she added.

Randy poured the gravy onto the potatoes then put the ladle back in the gravy boat. He nodded. “That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

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