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Barney’s Thanksgiving

By Jean Mavrelis - 11.24.2011

It’s harvest time. Harvest celebrations have been going on as long as there have been people to recognize and ritualize seasons of growth and hibernation of the earth.

In the U.S. we have created a myth of pilgrims and Indians coming together to share a feast.

It’s a myth that allows Americans to feel good about themselves coming to settle indigenous land.

I prefer to celebrate this holiday in a more basic way. For me, it’s a holiday that celebrates eating. I am thankful for food and the ability to smell and taste and eat it.

I have hanging in my kitchen a framed saying I picked up at an antique fair that says: “Some ha’e meat that canna eat, And some wad eat that want (need)it; But we ha’e meat, an’ we can eat, so let the Lord be thankit.”

I remember a thanksgiving when my Dad found a way to taste food. While battling cancer he had the roof of his mouth, part of his tongue, and a section of his jaw bone removed, along with his epiglottal nerve, which allows you to swallow.

He refused to have a permanent food tube inserted through his nose, which would allow him to pour cans of liquid food into his stomach.

Amazing man, my father, he had been a medic during WWII and wasn’t one to be squeamish.

Instead, he fashioned a contraption out of a douche bag with a thin tube attached. He would blenderize whatever delicious food my Mom or he cooked, and then would run the tube connected to the bag under warm water, and put it through his nose into his throat.

Then he’d pour in the food. He’d pat his stomach and say, “mmmm, that was delicious.”

One thanksgiving day he was determined to taste. He filled a cup with borscht, sour cream, and onions. He poured it back and forth from cup to cup to get any air bubbles out. Then he tipped back his head and poured. Down it went.

With tears streaming down his face, he literally fell to his knees. After that, he would have his daily draught of dark beer after pouring the contents from glass to glass to remove the bubbles.

My Dad, Barney Goldstein, had a tavern. People would come from far and wide to meet him, because he would never let life get him down. He’d point a finger and say, “Life is Good”.

So, this Thanksgiving, instead of imagining the myth of pilgrims and Indians, I suggest we all respectfully deal with the truth – whatever that means for each of us.

Dad always said, “The key to life is acceptance”. It helps to remember that, as life changes, and we sometimes long for an idyllic past.

And if you can, take the time to really taste the food you are enjoying!