Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
“A pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant.”
-Rex Stout, Fer-de-Lance
“But, instead of what our imagination makes us suppose and which we worthless try to discover, life gives us something that we could hardly imagine.”
Ahhh…Thanksgiving! The wonderful aroma of sauces, spices, and sundries sautéing, simmering, sizzling, soaking, steaming…all stupefying the senses and stimulating a special sort of…ok, enough with the “S’s”. It’s simply a satisfactory holiday!
Then, there’s family! A fabulous festival of friendly folk fortunate to…I’ll quit.
Honestly, I haven’t been a big fan of the holiday for years and years. In fact, this may have been the first year that I can remember that I actually spent a moment being thankful. I have always held these contrarian viewpoints that want to brush people the wrong way or stir up some type of strife. It is in my nature and needs constant taming. I love to point out the brutality of white-conquest, or over-indulgence, or the coming parade of capitalism that will be jockeying for position against the birth of Christ…again, it’s in my nature. And, good grief, is it obnoxious. But that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful.
This year was a rare situation for me. I really haven’t had Thanksgiving with my mother, father, or brother for about 25 years. My daughter and I had a full-day of it with them about 3 years ago. Other than that, it’s only been an evening dessert drop-in at best. That’s another blog post though. I didn’t think I would be there this year, but with how everything ended up working out in the last minute, I drove over.
There wasn’t any grand entrance or red carpet, it was just family. Mom scooted some chairs aside and set a plate for me. I filled my self up with all of those delicious “S’s” and was completely satisfied. After the meal, the “F’s” started in. It was family time. If you know my dad at all, you will be quite surprised to find out that he had a prepared agenda for the family (insert laugh track here). He passed out a number of readings for those in attendance and we all learned a bit about Thanksgiving’s history. I, of course, had to make some off-handed comment about the Native Americans…but it blew over (sigh).
After the readings, dad wanted all of us to recount a memorable Thanksgiving. After hearing mine, he and mom asked if I would share it as a guest blog here on “Prisha Patter”.
Thanksgiving 2010, I was living in Pasadena, California with my (then) wife, son, and daughter. In my mind, it was amazing on it’s own because I’d wanted to live in the Los Angeles area since I was 13 and was finally there. That said, being there meant being broke. I was a full-time student at Art Center College of Design and had a part-time job at the public library that paid about $150 a week. $150 a week for a single person in Los Angeles is laughable - for a family of four…
My parents were constantly asking if we needed anything, but I was always needing something out there. They had asked again just before Thanksgiving. Because of my pride, I said “No. We are all set!” We weren’t set.
I did get paid from the library the Tuesday before. I had to take care of many other things like fuel for the car and who knows what else. It left me with very little money for Thanksgiving food. We lived in walking distance from a Ralph’s, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods. I went to each market looking for the best prices on the things on our "eat’s" list - sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkin pie, and whatever else had been requested. One of those items on the list was turkey. The turkey was the problem. It was too expensive. I would have to either get turkey and one item, or all of the “fixings” without the turkey.
I’d finally gathered most of the "fixings" and ended up at Whole Foods. Yeah, I know, Whole Foods doesn’t seem like the right place to go for a turkey deal, but that’s where I’d ended up. I had gathered a few items there and had made my way to the turkey station. I finally found a really small turkey, but I would have had to sacrifice a couple of the other items in my cart. After picking the turkey up and putting it back down again a couple of times - trying to make a decision, an attendant behind the counter walked up to me and whispered, “Hey! We are open until noon tomorrow (Thanksgiving Day), and all of the turkeys are gonna be 70% off!” Needless to say, I was thrilled!
I took all of the items home and was, of course, questioned about the turkey. I didn’t elaborate because it would have caused problems (again, that’s another blog), but just said that I was picking the turkey up tomorrow.
That Thanksgiving was amazing. We had all the food we loved from home and a gigantic turkey that we feasted on for a week. We spent the rest of the day walking around Pasadena and ending up just off Colorado Boulevard watching the lighting of the Christmas Tree.
The quotes at the beginning are relevant to me. I am quite a pessimist - always. But, I have to question why things like this are a surprise to me. I have always had my loving Heavenly Father looking out for me and “surprising” me with things like this. I know He comes through, yet I always harbor doubt. My folks should’ve given me the middle name of “Thomas” instead of my brother. But, indeed, what a pleasant surprise.
The second quote is a very secular quote but, I am absolutely worthless without my Creator. I also do imagine the worst. Instead of “looking at the birds of the air” and knowing that they “do not sow or reap” yet my “Heavenly Father feeds them.”, I frantically run from store to store in a nervous fit trying to figure out how to pay for everything. There was nothing wrong with me running from store to store for a deal, but there was everything wrong with me “nail-biting” over it all. God always gives me “something we could hardly imagine”.