It’s Thanksgiving morning, time to interrupt the series of memories I’ve posted about past games between Michigan and Ohio State to recall what Thanksgiving should be about. Sure, there are numerous football games I could recall, such as the 1973 classic between Midland Park and Waldwick, with MP rallying from 13 points down to win 18-13, or the 1984 game between Fordham Prep and Xavier, with Xavier rallying in the final minutes for a 12-7 win, or the bitter cold on the hill at Don Bosco in Bosco’s 16-7 win over Paramus Catholic in 2000, but the truth is that football just accompanies the holiday. More than that, it really shouldn’t be a holiday about devouring a ton of food. Sure, food is part of it, but it only serves as window dressing for the occasion.
The core of Thanksgiving Day should always be about gratitude for all the good things we have in life, and about making an effort to make it good for someone else. I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to pursuing the rat race, but the real opportunity in this holiday isn’t the chance to consume food from a world-class chef who graduated from a culinary school, it’s the chance to stand up and help others. Saturday I interrupted my usual routine to work as a line judge at a charity volleyball tournament in Paterson, N.J., while my wife served as the referee. We, like many others, donated canned goods to be given to needy families. We’re not millionaires by any means, but it was an opportunity to help others. I don’t mean to boast, but I did feel good afterward, as I think everyone involved did. Frankly, I think almost every time you help others, you feel better about life, and your role in it.
There have been a lot of movies involving Thanksgiving over the years, but to me, the most meaningful was “Scent of a Woman.” Two people, a high school prep student dealing with an ethical challenge, and a veteran blinded by an accident, struggle with the circumstances of their lives. Together, they help each other. The ending isn’t the old fashioned, everything-is-ideal Hollywood scenario; instead, it concludes with a flash of semi-realistic optimism. Each character gets through his particular quandary, and makes a friend in the process. There’s something to be said for that. Maybe if we all try to help someone, we can get through tough times in life.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!