Saturday, March 6th, 2021

O Shopper Columns


This year, Thanksgiving will be different for my family. For the past 26 years, we've gathered at the home of my brother, Chris, and his wife, Robin, for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Everyone brought a dish or two, and given the prep time, the actual dining always ended far too soon. Drunk on turkey, gravy, and stuffing- not to mention desserts- we'd then plop down in the family room where we'd fight the urge to nap. Some were more valiant than others in that struggle. For the majority who prevailed, there followed an afternoon of sharing memories, laughs, and the latest news about family and friends.

This Thanksgiving will be Chris and Robin's first as empty-nesters. My niece, Sydney, married this past summer and will spend the holiday with her husband's family in Maryland. My nephew, Nick, moved to Hollywood in August and won't be home until Christmas. Given these changes, we've decided to forgo a Thanksgiving dinner at home and opt for eating out.

Those aren't the only changes. For the past nine years, my partner, Carey, and I have enjoyed a second Thanksgiving dinner with his adopted "Virginia Mom and Pop" in Seaford. (Yes, we have stuffed ourselves silly twice each Thanksgiving since 2010. But if you tasted his "Mom's" cooking, you'd not only forgive our gluttony, you'd envy us.) Because "Mom" is dealing with severe back issues, she is unable to cook and host Thanksgiving this year.

"...But sometime it will be the last time.
The same old things
will never be the same again."

And so, our Thanksgivings are undergoing permanent changes. In the past, this holiday has had its share of stresses related to cooking, arriving on time, and navigating the dangerous shoals of political conversations, but for the most part, it has been joyous. The realization that future Thanksgivings will be very different tinges this year's observance with a bit of sadness.

And yet, if I'm clear-eyed, I have to admit that our Thanksgivings were always changing. Children were born; loved ones passed on; family members moved away. Thanksgiving celebrations may have remained the same for a handful of years, but then changes came, and we adapted our traditions.

In thinking upon these things, a song I once heard comes to mind. It begins by seeming to lament the monotony of "the same old things" that we do time after time, from day to day and year to year. It ends by stating a simple truth:

"...But sometime it will be the last time.
The same old things will never be the same again."

That simple fact could serve as a wake-up call to those wishing to be woke. The ever-changing reality of life makes each Thanksgiving- each holiday- unique from all others. And perhaps the transitory nature of life as now we know it is reason enough to be thankful for the present and to be glad.

Rob Lauer is an award-winning, nationally-produced and published playwright with over 35 years of experience in the entertainment industry. His national credits include production work for MGA Films, Time/Warner TV, The Learning Channel and The History Channel. Locally, Rob has been producing, directing and hosting three TV series for PCTV (the City of Portsmouth’s official channel) since 2011.