The aroma in the Plymouth was Thanksgiving. My siblings and I were bundled up like Randy in The Christmas Story, jostling each other in the back seat. The smells of Thanksgiving dinner drifted from the back of the station wagon. Our family was headed to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving for the Bilcze’s was often celebrated in the rear room of Jokie’s Café. My grandparent’s house was connected to the family business, Jokie’s Café. Jokie’s was a hub in the Hungarian-Romanian neighborhood in the industrial heart of Alliance, Ohio. The bar’s rear room was rearranged into a dinner table for these feasts. Good memories for sure!
Thanksgiving has always been a time for memories. Over the years, faces, places, and celebrations have changed. Many things remain constant. The food is traditional Thanksgiving fare of turkey, dressing, and the fixings. The spirit of being thankful has always been the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table.
I have much to be thankful for this year. Life has changed for that five-year-old boy fighting with my little sister in the rear seat of the Plymouth. My life has had its ups and downs, good times and not so good times. These times have led me to a good point in my life that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.
I am thankful for my travels. One of my goals for my retirement years is to travel. Travel I did in 2018. Cycling through southern Bohemia and along the Danube in the Czech Republic and Austria was an amazing time. I look forward to more of these adventures in the years to come.
I am thankful for my health. I would not be able to travel if I did not have my health. It’s funny how your health becomes a priority as you age. Being healthy is more than just your weight, outward appearance, and meds you take. It’s being comfortable within your body and being happy with the person you are.
I am thankful for family and friends. My community changed over the years. That nuclear 1950s family from Alliance has grown to be more diverse. Years passed, and many people have come into my life. I find myself back to living in rural Ohio surrounded by family and friends that I am thankful for.
I am thankful for retirement. This was not true in my early retirement days. I was in a new place removed from the community I built through the church, cycling, hiking, and LGBT activism. After a good bit of reading about retirement and changes in life. I learned that I had to reach out and build my new community. I now find myself in a very rewarding place that I am very thankful for.
This Thanksgiving Day and holiday season I ask you to reflect on what you are thankful for in your life. Celebrate them and keep that spirit of thankfulness alive in the coming year.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it reminds us to give thanks and to count our blessings. Suddenly, so many things become so little when we realize how blessed and lucky, we are.– Joyce Giraud