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Where is the Turkey?

November 17, 2013

My dad and I have always been very close. He has always been one to cheer me on, no matter what I was doing. He coached my baseball team when I was the kid in right field sitting on his glove because I was bored. He was the one who told me wrestling probably wasn’t my sport if all I wanted to do was wear the singlet around the house and not get into the circle. He was the one who taught me how to wrench on cars, got me to sing in church (along with my mom, who bribed me to sing at weddings… remember the Trapper Keeper and airplane made out of soda cans?), and let me hang out in the basement during rehearsals with his country band, Cyprus. He was also the one who was ok with not being “dugout dad” when the realization came to light that I was going to be an artsy-fartsy kid instead of a sports kid. He and mom have always been right there to take me to one more rehearsal, buy another instrument, drive me to the gig, pick up some strings on their way because I broke one during sound check, and on and on and on…

My dad also instilled in me long ago the desire to make sure and celebrate each and every holiday as they come. One of his biggest pet peeves was the sheer lack of respect some holidays received, and he used to write about it on occasion. One of his biggest issues is just how lost and forgotten Thanksgiving gets in the retail shuffle for money. At our house, there were times we’d take basketballs, cover them in different colored sheets, and hang them in the trees lining the driveway in celebration of spookiness. Once candy night was over, we’d take it all down and enjoy the changing colors of fall while being thankful all of November. But, there were a few rules. Rule number 1: No Christmas tree, present, decoration, or music shopping until the day after the turkey has been eaten. Rule number 2: No singing of any songs about snow, Santa, reindeer, baby Jesus, oriental kings, or little towns in the Middle East until the day after the turkey has been eaten. Rule number 3: No making of lists pertaining to frivolous items you’ll enjoy for a week and forget in the closet when the next cool thing shows up on the T.V. or purchasing of said frivolous items until at least the day after the turkey is eaten. NOTE: This was the guy who enjoyed Christmas so much, he’d purposefully wait until Christmas Eve to go shopping for all of us…

In short, my dad wanted Thanksgiving to have its place. November wasn’t No Shave November, it wasn’t Movember (for the hipsters who only want to grow mustaches that overmatch their constant 5 o’clock shadow), and it wasn’t “Black Friday Deals All Month Long” time, and it certainly wasn’t “Let’s eat so we can check the ads, get a nap, and stand in line all night” time. November was (and is) a time to reflect and give thanks for what God has done, which culminated (and still culminates) in a giant Albert family dinner gathering.

Like many of you, I grew up in a time when our entire city turned into a ghost town on Thanksgiving Day. Forgot that much needed can of jellied cranberry sauce? Too bad! Wally World wasn’t open. NOTHING was open! In fact, with the exception of the police and fire departments, everything else was closed! Not so these days, and in some ways, I think we are worse off for it. There’s something lost when family members can’t get together because somebody has to work on Thanksgiving Day, even if the store has to get ready for midnight madness, or 10 p.m. madness, or 6 p.m. madness… frankly, I find it all to be madness!!!!

So, why am I writing all of this?  Is there some great spiritual truth to expound upon? Am I preparing to drop some amazingly exegeted and properly interpreted passage of Holy Scripture which will blow your mind and cause you to change everything about November for your family? Nope. If that’s what you were waiting for, you’re going to be disappointed.

I wrote this post to honor my dad. See, the man who is one of my heros… one of my most treasured mentors… one of my best friends… cannot type this for himself anymore. My father is an amazing man. A loving husband, a caring father, an adoring grandfather, a beloved educator of children, and a man of God. He has been recognized by his peers as an outstanding educator, and has had national recognition for his efforts in public school education. The words he would write… the way he would speak… listening to him sing, and singing with he and my mom… all of it is treasured. Some of it is missed. Why? Because my father had a major stroke in 2010. We thought we were going to lose him. Thankfully, God had other plans! Over the past few years, he’s had to relearn several things, and is doing pretty well. Unfortunately, his cognitive skills and speech haven’t returned nearly as well as we had hoped. Even so, he is here with us, and we are so very glad to have him! Romans 8:18-37 speak volumes to me on a regular basis when I get down about not being able to share life with my dad the way I used to. I know this is a small suffrage in the grand scheme of God’s plans, so dad and I just love on each other and keep on truckin’.

I want to leave all of you with a final thought. A thought which came from the mind of my father back in 1989. A thought which occurred due to the over-commercialization of Christmas, and the subsequent loss of one of his favorite holidays. Maybe it will cause you to give a thought to instituting Ozark Ed’s rules of November. Then again, maybe not. Either way, here’s some food for thought from a man without whom I would not be nearly the man I am today… come to think of it, without him, I’d probably not even be here!

Where is the turkey? By Ed Albert, 1989
The leaves are fast turning the colors of fall. Bright yellows and gold, bring joy to us all. But soon all the ghosts and goblins we see, shall be boxed up and stored, replaced by a tree. The Carols ring loudly from speakers on walls each store has a Santa and so do the malls. We dash to the counter buying gifts for our honey, stores leave out Thanksgiving in their scramble for money. Thanksgiving is hidden in all of the clamor. It’s history lost in bright Christmas glamour. But I think of pilgrims round fires at night, loved ones had died in this terrible plight. I doubt whether trees with glistening lights were much on their minds those long winter nights. They stood with heads bowed in a reverent hush, giving thanks for the harvest, divorced from the rush. The question I ponder, the answer is murky. Out ghosts, in trees? But where is the turkey?

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