Hayter’s Article – November 17, 2016
Earlier today, Kay referred to me as a stick-in-the-mud. I had no reaction. Despite what you may have heard, name-calling can break bones. However, in this particular case there were no fractures, because what Kay said about me was true.
This Thanksgiving, I’ve become what Webster refers to as “a person who is dull and unadventurous.” What led to Kay’s statement of the obvious has to do with my decision to play down Thanksgiving this year. – Don’t act like I didn’t tell you. I mentioned it one or two articles back. Well, I mentioned it to somebody.
This year I just don’t care to go anywhere or have anyone over for Thanksgiving. It sounds sad as all get out, because it is. Yes, I’m a mess. Truth is, holiday cheer has been on a decline with me since we quit having our annual Hayter Turkey Bowl Football Game and our Christmas Bowl Game. All we do is eat and sit and talk about what used to be. Hey, I was there. I know what used to be.
Then Mom passed on in 2006, and it put a thick coat of “don’t-wanna” on most things family. Today, I’ve been spending the last few hours reading copies of Jill’s Family Newsletter, a family publication that came out January 1988 and ended with Issue 180 on November 1999. I’ve got a copy of one of only two first editions still in existence. That buddy is going to be worth a pretty penny one of these days.
I spent most of my time reading the reports on Thanksgiving. It’s shocking how my memory refused to hold onto some of the stuff that happened. I had forgotten that my nephew Tommy (Lynda’s youngest) was in Australia during the Thanksgiving of ’89. In “Our Family Newsletter”, Jill included a letter that Tommy had written from Australia on Thanksgiving Day.
He said that Thanksgiving fell on a Friday in Australia. I apparently I breezed right over that part, ‘cause Aussies and Thanksgiving didn’t provoke any interest when I first read about it back in ‘89. However, having just Googled “Australia Thanksgiving” I can tell you that the Aussies celebrate a National Day of Thankgiving on the last Saturday in May. You ask me, the Pilgrims and Indians mean absolutely nothing to the Aussies.
But the part of Tommy’s letter that hit me hard was his reference to the Thanksgivings experienced at his Grandmother’s house. (Mom, Mother or Elsie to me.) Tommy wrote: -- “The best part of eating Thanksgiving dinner was hearing lines from old movies that the guys always mimicked; the inside jokes that always made me rack my brain to figure out; the smell of the food. If you could sit in that home and not laugh and be thankful, something must be wrong.”
Tommy went on to describe the thrill of the Hayter Bowl. He wrote, “I’ve come to the point in the game where I’m not sure of my abilities. I may have lost a step and a few more hairs, but in this game you forget your age, your job, everything. You just play. Not for blood, just for fun.”
Tommy’s words made me think of the diplomacy involved in engineering plays where Mom would be our key receiver. I’d nudge Big Al, captain of the opposing team, and whisper, “Elsie over the middle.” He’d nod and spread the word.
With no one in the vicinity of Mom, I’d lob her the ball. The times she managed to catch the ball, her reaction was always the same. She didn’t try to dodge people or even run. She just stood there and screamed.
When you see your Mom hugging a football, while standing and screaming, it’s near impossible not to tackle her. Even when she was on my team, I’d bring that woman to the ground. Partly for the joy of it, and partly just to calm her down. Once Mom was down, everybody had to act as if they had assisted with the tackle. Of course, whoever actually hauled her down would provide a barrier to keep her from getting crushed. We were a crazy family, but we were not animals.
O’ my goodness those were great times. Never to be again, but always to be remembered by the two generations of Hayters who are old enough to have shared the moments.
With Mom and Dad gone, the inner families of The Family Hayter are pretty much doing their own thing on Thanksgiving. I’m not sad about Kay and I spending Thanksgiving alone. I only get down a bit when I think of what time has done to make it more comfortable to do so.
But, please, know that I am so thankful for what we have enjoyed. And for Jill having a desire to write a Family Newsletter for as long as she did, and for Tommy Thompson for writing such a wonderful letter some 27 years ago.
Right now, I’m particularly grateful for getting to write my 35th article about Thanksgiving,. And thankful that you have chosen to join me this morning, and for how ever many mornings you’ve chosen to do so. I appreciate it so very much. – As I’ve written time and again -- “Happy Thanksgiving, from the Hayters.” – Next time.
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