Thanksgiving: A Retrospective

What did you give thanks for this Thanksgiving? Some RiverWinds staff members count their blessings—and share them with us.

When I contemplated this, my Thanksgiving column, I wanted to do something different. After all, when we look around at the devastation some people in our state have faced recently, most of us in West Deptford have a lot to be grateful for. And I know I’ve been saying that in this space for several weeks now.

So I thought I’d give you all a break from my introspective musings. I came up with what I thought would be a brilliant idea for Thanksgiving. Instead of repeating my litany of gratitude, I’d turn the spotlight on others and ask them to share what they are thanking God for this Thanksgiving.

Inspired, I shot out an email to our mayor and council, the police chief and other notables listed on our township website, as well as the staff listed on RiverWinds’ site. Each email was the same—I asked each to share what he or she was thankful for this year and what his or her favorite Thanksgiving activity or tradition was. Then for fun I asked the “important” Thanksgiving question—white meat or dark?

Well, in retrospect maybe this idea wasn’t so brilliant. Because, after reaching out to all those people, I received very little response. In fact, only two people—both staff members at RiverWinds—decided to share their thoughts this Thanksgiving.

Now, before I go on, I want to say I am not in any way criticizing those who didn’t respond. After all, these are very busy people who are involved in really important activities. Answering a few questions for a fluff column on a website (not even a real newspaper!) certainly isn’t a priority. I am honestly grateful for all of you and your willingness to serve our township. (And if I decide to send out a “What do you want for Christmas?” questionnaire, I hope you find time to answer!)

As you can imagine, I was a little disappointed in the response (or lack thereof) that my questions received. But when counting our blessings, it’s more important to focus on what we have than what we wanted, right? So I decided to shrug off the column I had envisioned, and to focus on the two answers I did receive. And I am so thankful I did.

The first response I received was from Debbie Blaum, RiverWinds’ recreation services specialist and (full disclosure here) a long-time friend of my family. Debbie was a classmate of my brother Mark, both in high school and at West Chester University, and I will always remember her as a fellow member of the first class of young thespians at West Deptford Little Theatre. (Which means Debbie and I go back more than 40 years now!)

Anyway, Debbie shared that each year, her family goes around the table and asks each family member the same question I asked—what are you grateful for? Every year, the ritual gets longer as the family gets bigger (and, Debbie adds, the older members get more forgetful). Then the newest member of the family says grace, and everyone shares embarrassing stories.

“This year my daughter came home from South Carolina with my two granddaughters,” Debbie added. “I guess you can imagine what I’m grateful for!”

Thankful for a new addition

Children played a big part of program coordinator Aimee Maska Boucher’s response as well. “(I’m giving thanks) for the birth of our son, Nathaniel Gary,” the 33-year township resident said. “My husband Mark and I have been together for 12.5 years , married almost two, and we’ve been blessed to enter a whole new chapter of our lives.”

Aimee added that her favorite Thanksgiving tradition is steeped in family. “We’re lucky that our families are all still local to WD or very close. Dinner is at my parents with any number of siblings, nieces and nephews, and dessert is at my in-laws with all combinations of extended family.”

“It’s great to be able to spend time with both sides of the family and not have to choose or trade annually,” she added.

As for the big questions, Debbie Blaum was all about white meat and stuffing, followed by her mom’s pecan pie. Aimee Maska Boucher is not big on turkey, but looks forward to the mashed potatoes and her parents’ homemade sage sausage stuffing.

And me? Well, our latest tradition is a five o’clock bus to the parade in Philly, where our daughter and her friends from Royal Dance Academy perform at the Art Museum. Then it’s off to Broomall, where dark meat, mashed potatoes and Aunt Carole’s broccoli casserole are key in my Thanksgiving meal. Throw in a dozen or three of my aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and all the kids, and I know I’ve been very blessed indeed.


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