Larry Banman – Thoughts of Dad, with a side of potatoes
November 25, 2009
This is the season to give thanks for the good things in our lives. Almost by definition, giving thanks is an indication of things going well. Most of us are able to reflect on things that initially weren’t all that great but turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
For a lot of people, the past year hasn’t gone that well. According to most statistics more than 10 percent of the people in the country are unemployed. Those who are working or own their own businesses are having to make do with less. Most retail outlets are reporting a 16-20 percent decrease in sales. As government agencies see their revenue stream reduced, those agencies are faced with reducing services and/or increasing fees.
From a purely financial point of view, it hasn’t been a rosy year. It’s been one in which it may be difficult to find things for which to be thankful.
Just prior to the Thanksgiving break, I asked the players on the basketball team that I coach to express their thanks for something in their lives. Almost all of the responses were along the lines of being thankful for each other and their families. Nobody indicated being thankful for an impressive savings account. They were thankful for the people in their lives.
When it became my turn to express my thanks, I too found myself being thankful for a person. I found myself feeling a sense of gratitude for my father, who passed away this past October. Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday, and not only because of the food. Probably my favorite Thanksgivings were those during my high school and college years. I am the second youngest of five siblings, all of whom have attained some sort of college degree. Thanksgiving was the holiday when my older siblings would come home from college. They would arrive with tales of college life and sometimes they would arrive with a guest. It was then that I learned that people crave that feeling of togetherness that is part of observing family traditions. Those family traditions that I had always taken for granted were something that others craved. It was one of the first times I can remember feeling like I truly had something for which to be thankful.
When I went away to college, I loved being the one who came back with tales of a life beyond the farm. Those were the first trips that I experienced that great feeling of being back home. “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go . . .” suddenly had a new significance.
My parents created that sense of belonging, of feeling wanted, of feeling welcomed back. It may be one of the most powerful attractions we can experience. My mom was always bustling around, making sure we were warm and fed. My dad always wanted to know what we had been doing. He wanted to hear of our adventures, of our triumphs and of our adversity. He would listen with a slight smile playing at the corner of his mouth. He would listed with a genuine interest. And, he would listen without judgment. I’m going to miss that.
Thank you dad for being in my life for nearly 54 years. Thank you for what you did to enrich my life. One of our traditions was the pan of fried potatoes you always cooked up for the Sunday lunch during the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, I’m going to pick up that torch. I hope those who eat my potatoes will forgive the tears that will be added to the recipe.
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