Happy Thanksgiving from Keith Bettinger

My Best Thanksgiving

I had to think of 61 Thanksgivings to find the one I liked best.  After all, I have worked many Thanksgivings.  It had nothing to do with choice, it was scheduling.  When you work in law enforcement holidays don’t count.  

My first Thanksgiving away from family came when I was invited to a new girlfriend’s house for dinner.  My family said that they knew there would be a time we all could not be together, so go and enjoy myself.  The young lady later became my fiancé.  Later on she became my ex-fiancé.  I wish I had gone and had dinner with my family that Thanksgiving Day.

Then there was the first Thanksgiving my oldest son was born on November 10, 1977.  I worked a midnight shift.  I came home, and sat in my rocking easy chair, while we watched, well I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and I held him as he slept.  

Then I thought of the times we were invited somewhere for Thanksgiving.  This entailed packing up children, clean diapers and extra clothes, placing them in car seats and fighting traffic before arriving at the appointed destination, hopefully by the prescribed time.  This also usually included disagreements over which relatives you would have dinner with.  

As the children grew it involved other problems, one was away at college and unable to fly across country for a short weekend visit.  Then there was the time, the youngest child ran away on Thanksgiving.  He enjoyed dinner at his friend’s house.  We went without.  

Three years ago I traveled across country on Thanksgiving Day.  My father died two days earlier and my mother was in the hospital having a pacemaker implanted.   Happy Thanksgiving recited by airport personnel and airline employees had a hollow ring to them.  Thanksgiving dinner was a turkey wrap in an all night diner.  

So that made me wonder did I really find things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving and what might be my favorite Thanksgiving.  After much contemplation I have decided Thanksgiving 2011 is the best Thanksgiving Day I have celebrated.  

Thanksgiving Dinner was with family and friends in a restaurant.  No stress in the house, worrying if all the meal parts would be ready at the same time.  That became the worry of the chef.  An estranged son joined us.  Dinner conversation was pleasant and relaxed and no one had to eat turkey.  

Westbury High School Class of 1968 Reunion Then I thought of all the emails I have been receiving and how special they are.  You see, I graduated high school in 1968 and haven’t seen or spoken to most of my classmates in forty-three years.  One of my fellow alumni, gathered with some of her friends from school and organized a reunion for forty-four years.  Strange number but it has turned out to be fantastic. Since I have an ability to find people; old police training I guess, I was invited to join the reunion committee after it was formed.  Now I am receiving e-mails and phone calls from people I haven’t spoken to in all those years. Sande, a fellow reunion committee member built a website just for our class members.   All of Thanksgiving week there were messages posted from classmates taking the time to wish one another a Happy Thanksgiving and thanking the committee for bringing them together once again. 

Because of this endeavor I found an address and phone number for my junior prom date.  I called her home to invite her and her husband to the reunion, and although she wasn’t there to answer, the recorded message was a voice I immediately recognized.  Her e-mail that followed described her remembrance of that special evening. It brightened my day.  Phone calls to people lead to long conversations and remembrances of days long ago when bodies were thin and hair was full, not the opposite as it is today.  I receive daily e-mail messages from a young lady I had a seventh grade crush on.  

My fellow committee members and I are in constant contact.  There is so much joking and teasing with group e-mails going back and forth.  It is so nice to have people tell you how much your jokes make them laugh and add more wrinkles to their faces because of all the laughing they are doing.  People tell me they didn’t know I was so funny.  In high school I wasn’t funny – I just wanted out.  Now I am looking forward to a trip back to New York to visit.     

Sande and I were talking on the phone about people we didn’t connect with while in school.  He said, “Youth is wasted on the young.”   He was so right.  With maturity comes a sense of thankfulness for all that we have had over the years.  My best Thanksgiving will be in April.

Note:  This article was written in 2011.  The April that Keith is talking about is April 2012……The Westbury High School Class of 1968 Reunion!   www.westbury1968.com

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2013-11-15