Jim was a consummate connoisseur of fine food, fine wine, and godfather to my kids, a largely archaic and ceremonial post that meant a lot to him. He volunteered after That Boy (Jake) was born in July of 1996. At first, I thought it just a quaint way of expressing happiness for our first born. Eventually the realization dawned that Jim was quite serious.
Not being Catholic or Mafioso we weren't quite sure how to make it official so we settled on: okay, Jim Shepard is the godfather to our kids (but if we both die in a plane crash, the kids are going to Aunt Laura's--lawdy!)
I got a note from Jim on Thanksgiving of 2000, just a few weeks before the Reaper called for him on a bleak and icy stretch of cold dark roadway.
It's all cold and frosty here. But, given that this is a day of Thanksgiving, I'll count my own today. This is not such a bad tradition. It's healthy, methinks, to spend a few moments, if not an entire day, contemplating and appreciating one's blessings. And I'm not referring to luck. I'm talking about showing appreciation for all one has accomplished as well as for those who have helped us become what we are today. You've been a very positive influence in my life, and I want to thank you for that.
Ain't much of a segue, but I'm still struggling with the Thanksgiving Sermon, which ordinarily should flow like the wine does around here. For a reason that remains unclear, nothing much is flowing. Perhaps, like Hemingway or Hitchens, the wine isn't flowing neither and therein lies problem.
I guess the heart of the matter is that Thanksgiving remains unpretentious. One simple day set aside to give thanks for our many blessings. No gifts are required, yet our forebears have bequeathed us a magnificent American tradition spanning nearly four centuries. No gifts are required, yet bottles of wine, cranberry salad, and fresh pies will likely appear at your front door, accompanied by hugs and real whipped cream. No gifts are required, yet the homeless and hungry shall eat in shelters and churchyards across the land.
The patron saint of liberty, Thomas Jefferson, once said that friendship is precious, and my life has been blessed with the warmth of enduring friendship.
Ogden Nash noted that a family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold. I shopped for weeks at every Kids R Us across the state. It turned out I couldn't have done better than Jake and the House Blond, even with a special order. The price was right, too.
Joan Crawford warned that Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell. It's just about right when the love of a good hearted woman kicks the smoke alarms off every so often. My cousin John calls it sizzle.
On another note, my clients have made it possible for me to earn my living in a rewarding and altogether pleasant way. I am forever grateful to each of them for that as well as the loyalty and friendship over the years.
On the eve of this High Holy Day of The Wine Commonsewer, I'll leave you with a couple of thoughts.
First, from Episcopalian Bishop Phillips Brooks, who departed this fair earth some one hundred years ago.....
Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet. Believe in man. Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place. There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in.
Second, from Harriet Beecher Stowe.....
The king and high priest of all the festivals was the autumn Thanksgiving. When the apples were all gathered and the cider was all made, and the yellow pumpkins were rolled in from many a hill in billows of gold, and the corn was husked, and the labors of the season were done, and the warm, late days of Indian Summer came in, dreamy, and calm, and still, with just enough frost to crisp the ground of a morning, but with warm traces of benignant, sunny hours at noon, there came over the community a sort of genial repose of spirit - a sense of something accomplished.
Oh and, one more thing, Gentle Readers, thank you for stopping by The Wine Commonsewer now and again.
May each of you enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving that is exactly what it should be.
A tip of the glass to your health!