Written by Don Reid on November 26th, 2019 Posted in General

Thanksgiving is a state of mind. A meal that many rush through to avoid spending time with family members they don’t particularly care for. A meal that many linger over for hours enjoying spending time with family members they love and wish they saw more than one time a year. A lazy day to gorge on football and turkey. A busy day spent in a hot and crowded kitchen. A happy time making memories and reacquainting with aunts and uncles and cousins. A sad time having memories of days and people gone, missing their faces and their laughter and those old family jokes that live on through the holidays of time.

I could relate to you dozens and dozens of happy times around the family table and I feel blessed knowing I have those wonderful memories to draw from. And thank the good Lord, there was only one Thanksgiving I ever spent away from home. It was rather empty and lonely at the time but it makes me smile now looking back on it.

We, the Statlers, had gone to L.A. to tape the Dean Martin Christmas Special back in the 70s. Freddie Fender, Georgia Engels, Michael Learned, The Gold Diggers and I don’t remember who else and, of course, Dean. We rehearsed and taped all week and then come Thursday, which happened to be Thanksgiving, we had the day off but had to come back on Friday to finish up the week. We were the only east coast guests on the show, and after turning down a number of thoughtful invitations to Thanksgiving dinners, we spent the day at our hotel with not much to do as everything was closed for the holiday. About four o’clock that afternoon, the four of us, Harold, Phil, Lew and myself, talked and decided that even though all our families were 3000 miles away and having turkey and gravy without us, we could at least have dinner together.

Harold, Don, Dean Martin, Lew, Phil

We had been filming down on the beach at Malibu and were staying there to be close to the location, so we jumped into our rental car and rode around, looking for a restaurant. This was the first time I realized just how packed restaurants are on Thanksgiving Day. I had never been anywhere but home on this day and we were shocked to see the crowds. After trying nine or ten and deeming them too crowded, we finally settled on one and took our chances.

I would give anything to remember the name of that eatery as I have racked my brain for decades and had no luck. But it was shoulder-to-shoulder people. Clanging dishes and crying babies and a din of strident noises that never waned. We sat down, ordered, signed autographs, answered a hundred times why we were there, ate our dressing and sweet potatoes and went back to our hotel. We recalled this day many times for years after and I am so glad now that I had it to compare to all the other Thanksgiving days with which I have so richly been blessed. I missed my family. I missed the traditions. But there are so many who miss so much more and do with so much less that I never fail to remember all of them on this very special and quietly religious day. My prayer of grace always includes them and my prayer of thanks never takes anything for granted.

So, wherever you are and whomever you’re with or not with this year, I will say a prayer for you and wish all of God’s good blessings for your health, your comfort and your peace of mind.

May God be with you and everyone you love. Happy Thanksgiving!

DSR  2019