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The moment when Thanksgiving arrives

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There is no doubt when it arrived in 2012.

By Steve Doyle

When does Thanksgiving arrive at your house? Does it show up with family on your doorstep on Thursday morning, at an airport in a far-off place, in the atrium of a restaurant or in the car as you drive over the river and through the woods to you-know-who’s house?

Maybe it arrives several times, with a lunch feast at one home and dinner feast at another on Thanksgiving Day, or at a meal with one family on Thursday and another on a different day. Maybe you have three or four feasts.

Or maybe you don’t bother eating at all. Maybe Thanksgiving arrives when you simply think of someone you love and the blessings you have received, maybe it’s a heart thing and a not a tummy thing. Because, with all due respect to turkey and dressing, that’s what it’s supposed to be, isn’t it?

Yes, Thanksgiving can knock on our doors and ring our bells at various times and places, but I can tell you most assuredly when in 2012 it arrived for me:

It was Saturday evening, when I was sitting with my parents, our younger daughter and my wife in an auditorium at Southeast Christian Church waiting for our younger son to perform in a holiday musical.

Thanks-giving arrived on my wife’s cell phone, when she checked her Facebook page and saw a photo of a man wearing Marine fatigues, holding his young daughter, hugging his son and kissing his wife.

That was my older son, and he was on the clay of North Carolina and no longer in the sands of Afghanistan.

That, without any question, is Thanksgiving. Say amen.

Anything that happens the rest of this week is purely melted ice cream on a second piece of apple pie. The main course has processed through my heart and soul and arrived at its empowering destination.

More wonderful family and more wonderful feasts and great moments are to come, but there was a tearful spirit in that moment that can’t be matched by anything orchestrated by Hallmark or anyone else. And all I have to do is think about the moment to feel the chilling emotions all over again.

Yes, Thanksgiving had arrived.

And in the nick of time to save me from a year when I was fearing the holiday would be lost as a warm-up act for Black Friday.

If you love Thanksgiving, can you also love Black Friday? I have my doubts.

When your true joy is your son’s arrival from war, the appeal of a premidnight sale is almost as alluring as a toothache.

I fear I won’t have endured my bout with tryptophan before some of you will be headed out the door, credit card in hand, to dive into Christmas shopping madness. Even here in dear old Shelbyville stores will be open Thanksgiving night.

I sure hope that marketing plan is worth taking those employees away from families and luring others from theirs.

Frankly, I think we need a “blue law” against Black Friday.

You’ve read this sermon in past holiday seasons, but I can’t relinquish the pulpit. I can’t cotton to any activity that separates family members on Thanksgiving Day. Geography is enough of a divisive factor. We don’t need dangled dollars dancing before our eyes.

I realize not everyone is sold on family stuff like I am. I realize that some are overwhelmed by a mass of people and hanging with some you perhaps don’t know well. I realize Norman Rockwell didn’t paint the same picture for everyone.

Of course, I didn’t always appreciate the family aspect of Thanksgiving, either. For my part, I loved the process of having everyone at our house on Thanksgiving Day, but I didn’t realize it was because of the people and not the feast until I was in college and couldn’t participate so easily.

I went decades without being around my family for Thanksgiving, and now that I am with them routinely, we now split our celebration into a wonderful double holiday of two families, meaning two full meals and caloric intakes, yes, but also two wonderful pauses to share thanks and blessings. That’s even more special.

The first feast will be Thursday with my wife’s parents and grandfather in our new home on the farm, which makes me feel as if I should spend the day stripping tobacco before we eat, like we did when I was a boy. But there’s no tobacco at our Dozen Acres, so I’ll probably have to settle for pitching hay to the horses and a carrot to the rabbit or something.

Doesn’t matter, really.

I have my memories of wonderful family moments from Thanksgiving, and I already have received my truest blessing for this season, with my son having a feast with his family at their very own home.

So bring on the turkey, but keep that Black Friday stuff out of my sight.