I drained a can each of corn and black beans and mixed in salsa, then spooned all that would fit back into the salsa jar and tightened the lid closed. I put the bag of blue corn chips into another bag and got into the car and drove to my cousin, Maryann’s home in Cleveland Heights. Becky took the salsa and chips so I could grasp the hand rail and climb the steps into the kitchen. The dining room table was set and some of the side dishes were already there. Her ex-husband was seated comfortably in the front room watching football. Shortly after Mark arrived, we gathered at the table, said grace and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner.
After the main course we had coffee and a choice of apple or pumpkin pie and Maryann and I sat talking in the dining room, Becky left to join her new boyfriend’s family for the evening while Mark and Joel continued watching the game, and at six p.m. I bid my farewells, accepting a plate of leftovers and headed home where I took a nap.
On Friday I drove through the rain to my cousin Ray and his wife’s home. To him I handed the defunct CD player from which he would take what parts he could recycle and then put the machine into the recycle bin to be picked up by the trash collectors.
Every year Elaine tells me not to bring anything, although everyone else in her extended family does bring some tasty contribution, so I brought chocolate covered peanuts. We laughed and talked, enjoyed the second Thanksgiving dinner and shortly after nine-thirty, I said good night and drove the hour and a half return trip.
Saturday at noon I was in the parking lot of one of the few remaining Bob’s Big Boy restaurants in the clover leaf, looking toward the canal and Granger Road Hill from which I expected to see my friend, Ramona rolling down any minute. Any minute now. Well, sooner or later, and sure enough she appeared, we got out of our cars, greeted each other and went into the newly redecorated dining rooms. We each ordered their signature hamburger and a side of batter dipped mushrooms as we launched into catch-up conversation and managed to be at the counter to pay our bills by 1:00 p.m. as we had hoped.
From there I drove up Canal Road, Ramona trailing me to the parking lot of St. Monica’s church for their annual Christmas craft fair. For the next two hours we drifted apart, milled around, bought what we could not resist and were exhausted as the vendors started packing what they did not sell to take to the next craft fair, which we found out would be at Hennie’s parish the next day. We agreed to talk the next morning to see if we had another craft fair in us. Ramona headed out and I walked over to the church for the evening vigil Mass.
As I was sitting in the pew working my rosary beads, Diane arrived – no surprise since I purposely sat where she normally sits. After Mass she asked if I was doing anything else and since I said no, she asked if I wanted to go to Arby’s for a sandwich, and I thought that would be a good idea. She always carries the coupons with her in the car, so we agreed on their Rueben sandwich which was good the last time we got it.
Some of the other ladies Diane knows from the church’s Ladies Guild filed in after us and asked Diane if they could have some of her coupons, she raised an eyebrow at me and I chuckled as she cut out what each of them wanted. We sat across the aisle from them and enjoyed our sandwiches and talked about going on some of the day trips that the triple A flyer articles mention and about listening to the details on the Padre Pio Prayer Group going to have an audience with Pope Francis in February so we could consider that option.
At 10:30 Sunday morning Ramona called to say she felt like she could go to the craft fair at St. Columbkill’s Church. I agreed we should go since the weather is holding up. I called Hennie to see if she might meet us there after Mass and she said not to count on her but she’d find us if she decided to go.
The space in the church hall was packed with vendors of everything from bakery, baseball cards, handmade jewelry, books, blankets, memory foam bamboo pillows and sheets to bath re-fitters! I stood for a moment in front of a table where a young woman was selling her young adult science fantasy books before saying to her, I think I know you. Weren’t you in the Skyline Writers group? Yes, she was and now has 9 books to her credit, and the two young children she had then have increased to three. We talked for several minutes before I moved on.
At a table where a lady was handing out free pastel colored rosaries to remind us of aborted babies I found my Facebook friend, Maryann whom I originally know from St. Charles Church.
The vendors were all very pleasant and one real-estate agent selling simple bead necklaces for a young man who cannot do much else brought her 2 visiting granddaughters with her. They were from Redondo Beach. They were not much impressed that I had been there and that my family and I lived in Sunnyvale, which they did not know of.
Two young boys were selling zucchini bread, pumpkin bread and banana nut bread. When I said, Mmmmmm after reading that there was also zucchini with chocolate chips, one said, they’re going fast, only two left, better get it while you can! What a salesman, how could I resist.
Laden with our purchases Ramona and I sat on a bench by the door to recover a moment before leaving and my following her down to Pleasant Valley Road where right behind the stores is a little flat house like structure called Tony’s, a well-known family style restaurant. We both ordered the chicken paprikas, which was delicious.
From Tony’s Ramona went home and I headed down the road a few blocks to stop at my cousin Tom’s for a short visit.
How could I be anything less than incredibly grateful for all of the great people, good food, laughter, and fun I was more than fortunate to enjoy over this Thanksgiving of 2015, now printed on the pages of my memory to keep me warm and content as we look toward winter.