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COLUMN: The pleasure of a soft chair at Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving memories are a little unusual but, as is the norm, of my own making
2021-10-10 Antique chair
Stock image

Today being Thanksgiving Monday, we all have memories of the day and what it brings.

Turkey to be sure, stuffing as well, along with cranberries, mashed potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie to cap it off.

Family gatherings (before COVID-19), seeing old friends, trips back to one’s home town for a big meal.

And the occasional snow storm interrupting the fall colours, just to remind us that Mother Nature is still in charge.

I have all of those memories, but they’re not the ones which stand out.

Thanksgiving can be about simple pleasures, things we take for granted but miss when they’re suddenly gone.

In my case, it was a soft chair with a padded seat, backrest and arms  of all things.

It was in my first year of post-secondary education in London, what was then called the University of Western Ontario.

My roommates and I had a very off-campus apartment which was sparsely furnished to say the least.

A much-notched dining room table and some rickety wooden chairs, all from the Salvation Army, were about the extent of it.

We were sleeping on air mattresses, in sleeping bags, although I think we remembered to bring pillows.

We were in this situation either because furniture was the last thing we were thinking of as we scrambled to leave home for the first time, or because we so badly wanted out of our little near-northern Ontario hometown that we didn’t care.

Either way, we were sitting on hard surfaces at home and during class, or almost all of the time.

A month into the school year when we headed home for a turkey dinner and family gathering, soft chairs were still about the last thing on our minds.

It wasn’t until I walked into the family home’s living room and sat down on the couch that I realized what I was really missing  a comfortable seat.

So the simplest pleasures, eh?

Some of this was of my own making, of course.

My ‘B’ average in Grade 13 (yes, this was more than 40 years ago) probably didn’t help me get into residence at Western. Or at least get in on my timetable. I didn’t get accepted until about two weeks before classes started, after my dad had driven me and my friends down to London to find an apartment.

And the hard-chair experience didn’t last. When we got back to London after Thanksgiving, we made another trip to the Sally Anne for some of its padded stuff. And my parents bought me a bed, from Simpson Sears, and had it delivered.

Camping in our apartment was just one of our first-year adventures. A winter storm which dumped four feet (I kid you not!) of snow on London, cancelling exams and the ongoing saga of the Blue Buffalo (my Ford Cortina) were also high (or low) points. But those are stories for another day.

My second vivid memory of Thanksgiving was weather so extreme it threatened the turkey dinner itself.

We had travelled back to my hometown on a cold, wet, blustery day on the promise of turkey, numerous side dishes and pie.

But my hometown sits on Georgian Bay, which sits on Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes which doesn’t recognize Thanksgiving anymore than it regards Christmas or Easter.

If it wants to storm, it storms.

And on this Thanksgiving, it was storming  blowing so hard you could barely stand straight on the old salt dock.

What we were doing there in so much wind is another question, but for the purposes of this story it’s enough to know we were there  as the turkey cooked in my older sister’s oven.

Then the power got knocked out.

My sister isn’t one to panic, however, and said she would finish the turkey’s cooking in the barbecue.

There was some question whether this big bird would fit, but it did and got cooked just right. As usual, I don’t recall what happened with the side dishes. When you have turkey, you have a Thanksgiving meal.

But it did remind me of the time one of my other sisters cooked us a 32-pound turkey for Christmas during my first Barrie winter. It barely fit, too, but we just got it into the oven. I was eating turkey leftovers well into January, which was fine with me.

So my Thanksgiving memories are a little unusual but, as is the norm, of my own making.

Which is why they stick with me.

Bob Bruton is a BarrieToday staff reporter who covers city council.

Bob Bruton

About the Author: Bob Bruton

Bob Bruton is a full-time BarrieToday reporter who covers politics and city hall.
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