Usually on Thanksgiving, my thoughts go to the grandiose, like being grateful for perfect parents, or the incredible luck to be born in the “Land of the brave and home of the free,” or having had a wonderful husband, or working with great editors over the years.
Not this year. Today, all of my thanks are wrapped around the bright and shining little things that went into the delicious and sometimes idiotically human experience of growing up. Trivial things that made me laugh, or smile, or just stop in my tracks, take notice, and make a memory.
Since they are good things, I am putting them on a wish list to share with your children or grandchildren, or great grandchildren, or just stop a child on the street who is minding his own business, and say, “Hey. Kid. Did you ever …?”
So here is my Wish List of things that I hope some day every child will get the chance to do:
Go to the beach with your family and try to dig a hole in the sand to the other side of the world. In order to do this properly, you have to envision that after you break through to the other side, people will be walking around upside down, and the first thing you will see is a Chinaman’s feet.
Have a pen pal to whom you write with a real pen on real paper that you put in an envelope and mail far away, so that you have to wait for a real answer written by a real person, on real paper, that will arrive in an envelope with an exotic foreign stamp (Oh …the joys of anticipation!)
Ride your bicycle down a hill without a helmet and feel the wind in your hair.
Get a piece of chalk, draw a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk, and be the first to call out “Sky Blue!
Make a beanbag. It’s really easy. All you need is a needle, thread, a bit of fabric, and uncooked beans. And it’s fun to toss around. No kidding.
Make carnation flowers out of Kleenex and a bobby pin. Also easy. Also fun. Come on over. I’ll show you how.
Sit on the curb with a magnifying glass and kill ants with a beam of sunlight. Sickening, yes. But a rite of childhood.
Sit on the handlebars or the crossbar of your father’s bicycle when he is riding his bike. It is uncomfortable and dangerous, but makes a great memory of being with Dad.
Go to a Halloween party, enter the spooky House of Horrors, sick your hand in a bowl of cold brains, and laugh when you find out later that the “brains” were from a big can of spaghetti.
Get up early on a morning after it has snowed, walk to the top of a hill, look down at a pristine world, and feel as if your have been transported onto a beautiful Christmas card.
Help your mother hang clothes on a clothesline in the sun, and watch them flutter in the breeze.
Iron a beautiful maple leaf between two sheets of wax paper, remove the paper after the wax has been transferred to the leaf, and keep the leaf as memento of a perfect autumn day.
Play tag • Play kick-the-can • Play S.P.U.D. • Play hide-and-seek.
String together two tin cans, give one to a friend, walk to opposite sides of the room, and talk to each other on a primitive telephone (it doesn’t have to work. It’s the thought that counts).
Smear Elmer’s glue on the palm of your hand, and after it dries, pull it off in long strips, like peeling off sunburned skin.
Go through your parents’ bureau drawers and look for love letters that they wrote to each other.
Find an attic filled with wonderful old things, flex your fingers and: Use a dial telephone • Use a typewriter • Use a fountain pen • Use a coke bottle opener. Use a roller skate key.
For two years when I was growing up, our television set didn’t work. I thought that money was tight and our parents couldn’t afford to fix it. So, I did what all kids did back then. I read. I played tennis. I rode my bicycle. I went to the beach. And I had glorious fights with my siblings. I did not find out until many years later that my father decided our brains were turning to mush, and he just unplugged the TV.
My last wish for you harkens back on those pleasant non-technological two years. I would like you to turn your off your television set, your Wii, your iPod, your computer, and your cell phone. Sit down next to a young person whom you like a whole lot. Talk. Play. Roll around on the rug and tussle. Take out a board game. Fall asleep on the sofa.
Tell the kid about adventures that you had when you were a child. Teach him or her something that you once knew. Then go out (or stay in) and, together, make some delicious new memories.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. Bon appétit!
Shelly Reuben has been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. She is an author, private detective, and fire investigator. For more about her books, visit www.shellyreuben.com.
Copyright © 2010, Shelly Reuben