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Memories of a Phoenix Thanksgiving in 1962

Well, we are now entering the Holiday season. Here in America, our first holiday is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is where the Pilgrims gave thanks to God for their first harvest. It is also the time when extended families get together and have a Thanksgiving meal. Let me share a Thanksgiving saga with you that happened when I was growing up.

Go back to 1962 in Phoenix, Arizona. I was 13 years old. It was the first Thanksgiving in our new home. Thanksgiving was a big deal! All of the Delph clan would assemble and have the coveted Thanksgiving turkey meal prepared by my mother who was the best cook on earth. Aunt’s, uncle’s, grandparents, heaps of cousins, my siblings and parents were all there. So was our favorite dog and family mascot, Socrates.

Socrates was a large standard dachshund, the original model that wasn’t bred down to the size of a hot dog. He looked more like a black and tan basset hound. His low profile made negotiating the large lava rocks on the mountain where I grew up quite a challenge. He needed a skid pan. But the thing I remember most about Socrates was his appetite. This dog lived to eat. He would eat almost anything. My brother, sister and I tested his limits more than once with orange peels, olives, grapes or anything else that resembles what comes off a kitchen counter. He passed every test with flying colors.

Well, the Thanksgiving dinner was finished, everyone was in the living room and the kitchen was deserted. This was the perfect scenario for a hungry dog in stealth mode. Somehow, Socrates ascended to the heights of the kitchen counter and clamped on to the former twenty-five pound turkey carcass. Socrates embraced more than the moment.

Now, before I tell you the end of the story, let’s imagine what Socrates was thinking. “I know what day this is. This is Thanksgiving. My family is thanking me for being such a good dog! They are thanking me for the robbers I have chased off and the miles I have walked on this mountain with cactus on my belly. They are thanking me for how I am raising three children. They had their dinner, now I get mine. It’s my reward. It’s my Thanksgiving too!

I’d better go find a safe place to eat this bountiful reward. I know, the best place in the house is down the hall in the bedroom farthest away from here. I’ll eat this culinary miracle under Ed’s bed. I’d better go quickly. I don’t want to lose any of that juice that’s leaking out of this lovely carcass. What a Thanksgiving! I’m sooooooo doggon thankful!”

Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Socrates was discovered. All you had to do was follow the grease trail on Mom’s new white carpet down the hall. Mind you, Socrates put up a valiant effort in keeping his treasure. He went down fighting.  As I recall, that was the only time he ever bit my Dad. In the heat of the battle, the turkey was a higher priority than the relationship!

A few days later everything was back to normal. Socrates was eating Skippy dog food. The carpet was cleaned. Dad and Socrates were on petting terms. But the most important thing of that Thanksgiving was the memories that were made.  Memories of family, friends and those that are not with us anymore. Memories of Thanksgivings in times less complicated than now. Memories of love and growing up. And memories of one overweight and oversized dachshund named Socrates and a mauled turkey carcass.

This Thanksgiving try not to focus on what you don’t have.

Focus on what you have and be thankful. Try thanks first and giving second. The pilgrims did. The scriptures say in First Thessalonians 5:18,

“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God.”

Arthur Rubinstein said,

“I have found that if you love life, then life will love you (and thank) you back.”

That’s the attitude of Thanksgiving.

When Socrates went to sleep on that Thanksgiving evening in 1962, I bet you he was dreaming of what he was going to get for Christmas.


church-community-connection-02Church-Community Connection is published weekly in newspapers and blogs all over the world. Most of these newspapers are local paid subscription newspapers. The goal of these 600 word articles is to build a bridge to the community through humor, wisdom and changing inaccurate mental perceptions that the community has of God, church, and Christianity. If you know of a local newspaper that you think would like these articles, please have them contact Ed Delph at our website. The articles are free of charge and Ed’s way of giving back to the community.

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