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PDN Features Editor
SIX NOVEMBERS AGO, just before Thanksgiving, I met the late Bob Boardman and his partner, Susan.
It was on a sunny fall afternoon at their house on Little River Road, and Bob grilled salmon while Susan made a salad of greens from their garden.
Since I was new in town, Bob sat down beside me and, leaning forward from the edge of his chair, asked me about myself.
Where was I from? How did I get here?
In a minute, we discovered our common interests: newspaper journalism, music, Mexico, cats.
Wriggling like a kid, Bob showed me what it looks like when somebody is really curious about your story.
Over the next four years, our friendship continued, on long hikes in Olympic National Park, over more salmon dinners and on drives to Port Townsend to see concerts at Fort Worden and movies at the Rose Theatre.
Susan and Bob were my guides to good stuff on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Yet through it all, I was restless. I wondered whether I fit in here.
Having moved around a lot, I default into keeping my distance from friends.
The hikes, concerts, movies and salmon grilling kept on, though, until they were things I took for granted.
Sunset hikes on Hurricane Hill? Of course.
Salmon dinners out on Susan and Bob's deck as the evening light turned everything gold? Sure, we'll have lots more of these.
Then, one October day in 2010, Bob and Susan hiked up to Klahhane Ridge, where Bob was killed by a mountain goat.
He and Susan had been together 11 years but married less than one, having had a small wedding at their home in December 2009.
Still in a fog of grief, I shared Thanksgiving dinner with Susan's and Bob's family in 2010.
In the two years since, I've thought about what Bob taught me and his many friends.
Your time spent with the people you love is precious, so pay attention.
Just talking, laughing and looking into each other's eyes, that's the sweetness in life.
I lack a lot of material things.
No fancy house, nice car or iPad.
What I have are great friends here in Port Angeles.
I'll be giving thanks for my times with them, during this holiday season and beyond.
Thank you, Lord, for the spoon
THE PUMPKIN PIE was in a pan balanced on two sawhorses in the cool garage.
My foot hit a leg of the nearest sawhorse, and the pie went into an up-side-down curve onto the indoor-outdoor carpeting below.
In the kitchen, one spoon hung over the stove.
I wanted to throw that spoon to hear it connect with something . . . anything!
Instead, it curved under the mess to scoop pie back into the empty pan.
Served on plates, pie pan out-of-sight, spoon soaking in the sink, I waited for the inevitable question.
“Mom, what is this? Sure tastes good.”
“It's a new recipe I'm trying,” I replied. “It's called . . . Pumpkin Scoop!”
The gift that continues to give
I HAVE A turkey made from a pine cone with colorful feathers and a hand- drawn face that my grandson made for me when he was 5. He is now 28.
This turkey is proudly displayed each and every year and has become one of our Thanksgiving traditions that warm our hearts.
My grandson cannot always be with us physically, but he is always within our hearts and one of the many blessings I am so very thankful for.
I have a grateful heart each day and especially on Thanksgiving Day.
A special gift
THANKSGIVING IS A special time in our home.
It took on new meaning for us when my daughter Hillary was born on Thanksgiving Day.
I was hoping to finish my meal, but this baby was anxious to enter the world.
Her birth was nothing short of miraculous.
She was a twin, and I had lost her sibling during my pregnancy.
Her chances for survival were very slim.
She hung on for dear life, and our family was given a special gift on Thanksgiving.
Every year, when I look across the table at her, I am reminded of how precious life is.
MY SON WAS in the Coast Guard and asked if he could bring a few friends home for Thanksgiving as they were so far from home.
I said sure and ended up having 10 Coasties at my house.
We had to move the table into the front room for enough room.
My 22-pound turkey was devoured.
Every one called me mom and even brought gifts for me.
It was such a blessed day.
I will never forget all of us bowing our heads for grace.
All I could think of what a blessing that I could be mom to all these young men on such a special day.
Girl Scout dinner
IT WAS THE Thanksgiving of 1982, and it had not been a good year.
Five-year-old Kurt was in a complete body cast, armpits to toes, his left femur slowly healing from a spiral fracture.
He had broken it in October jumping in leaves on the lawn of the funeral home on the day of his father's burial.
I was working, but money was tight.
A typical holiday dinner was out of the question.
Would the four kids notice a cut-rate holiday?
On Tuesday the phone rang.
It was a local Girl Scout leader who was excited and bubbling with enthusiasm.
I had a hard time matching her sugary words and was uncharacteristically curt to her until I realized what she was saying.
Her troop had decided to adopt a needy family for the holiday and provide the complete meal for them.
I felt a pang of sorrow when I realized that my family met their criteria.
Four parents of the girls arrived the next day.
They had thought of everything — from cranberry sauce to a 20-pound turkey.
The girls had decided to use their cookie money to provide the meal instead of going to New York City for holiday fun.
I must have thanked them profusely and shook their hands to congratulate them on raising such wonderful kids. But I can't remember if I did. I hope so.
A special menu
A THANKSGIVING STORY that will live on in the Bradley household took place a few years back when our sons were 8 and 12.
My husband's job laid him off the week before Thanksgiving, and with my small part-time job, there were no extras for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Not wanting this to be a sad Thanksgiving, we hatched a plan which bolstered our spirits as much as our sons!
We told our sons matter-of-factly that we were going to make our kitchen a fancy restaurant this year: “Chez Bradley!”
Each person could look into the cupboards and refrigerator to see what they would like as a special meal for their Thanksgiving dinner.
This was the one and only time where Mom and Dad wouldn't say, “What do you think this is, a restaurant?!”
Once I had their orders, fancy menus were printed with French names for their choices:
Beans with rice became Haricots avec du Riz.
A cheese omelet became Fromage Omelette.
None of us remembers all four menu choices, but we all remember the event fondly!
That evening, after my husband (the maitre d') escorted the boys to their seats, we bowed our heads and were thankful for our riches.
On the road
JOHN AND MARY drove from California to Tulsa, Okla., before Thanksgiving to visit her sister in the hospital.
Mary fell in the parking lot of the hospital and broke her hip.
They didn't know how they were going to get home because she could not sit up.
My husband and I drove our motorhome to Tulsa, towed their car behind it and brought them back to California.
While traveling back on Thanksgiving Day, I prepared a complete turkey dinner with all the trimmings while my husband drove.
We have received a beautiful gratitude card from them every year.
The stuffed turkey
WHEN I THINK of Thanksgiving in our home, I think of several years ago when our children were grown and home for the holiday, and we were all happy that I had survived cancer.
We decided to individually profess our thankfulness for being here on earth on this special day with each other.
We found a little stuffed turkey to be our “hot potato.”
So each year, as we sit at our Thanksgiving table together before our meal, we pass our little stuffed turkey and share why we are thankful.
Sometimes there are tears, often there are chuckles, sometimes we take a minute to remember a missing loved one who's passed or couldn't be there, our young grandchildren are sometimes grateful for Grandpa, sometimes for a new friend — but always there is anticipation for a turn to “talk” to the little stuffed turkey and remember why we are thankful.
A gift of turkey
OUR FAMILY SPENT spent 30 years as missionaries in the Philippines.
Occasionally, fellows from Clark Air Base or from [the U.S. Navy base near] Olongapo would visit us.
One Thanksgiving two fellows arrived bringing a large turkey they had won at a turkey shoot.
I placed it on my kitchen counter.
A neighbor lady came over. She walked back and forth looking at the turkey.
“It's not a pig,” she said. “It's too big to be a chicken.”
You may be sure her family had a share of turkey! How thankful we were to God!
I expect to spend Thanksgiving Day at the home of a grandson and his family on Vashon Island.
P.S.: Since I am 91, I came through the Great Depression.
We lived on a farm 5 miles west of Joyce at the mouth of the Lyre River.
We had cows and chickens, plus deer dad shot. The meat made good hamburger, ground with the meat of a pig he raised.
Money was scarce. Dad shipped cream to the Port Angeles Creamery, wheeling the can on his wheelbarrow a quarter of a mile to the road.
Mom was a wonderful cook, so we had great Thanksgiving dinners.
Cabin in the woods
WE ANTICIPATE CELEBRATING Thanksgiving right here — along with our grown children and grandson!
We are getting older — but ever so much better in love.
Here's my story:
The pleasant aroma of roasting turkey reminded me of past Thanksgivings.
But nothing else seemed the same.
Mom now lived in a tiny log cabin tucked in the woods.
We sat around her small oak table and while I didn't know it then, it was the final Thanksgiving we'd share there together.
Decades later, I celebrate in the same little log cabin.
What a great reminder that Thanksgiving is found in our hearts and our memories.
Even though life may change where we live, it doesn't have to change who we are and the family we love.
IN SAPPHO, THERE'S a group of friends who has been gathering for Thanksgiving dinner since 1975.
Everyone meets at the home of Roger Lien. Just before Thanksgiving 2009, his wife, Joan, passed away.
The tradition continued.
I was only 5 in 1975, and some of the “kids” who return every year were not yet born.
But we are in our 30s and 40s and travel back to Sappho every year, along with our parents, to meet, eat and catch up.
All of the adults went to the West End in the early to mid-1970s as “back-to-the-landers.”
The kids were raised in the Forks area but have now all left for other parts of Western Washington.
There's even a second generation of Thanksgiving kids now.
Thanksgiving 2012 will once again be spent in Sappho.
■ The adults who started this tradition were away from their families for the most part for the holiday, so began gathering with friends.
■ They have their “signature” dishes which, without arranging it, they bring every year.
■ Roger always makes the turkey. Joan used to.
■ We've had an engagement announced at Thanksgiving.
■ My daughter tried her first bite of real food at Thanksgiving when she was 6 months old.
■ There is a tradition called “Sappho Rules,” where people can take any available seat.
■ It seems like everyone there has an interesting job, from fisheries to nursing to prison to Peninsula College to snow patrol to architecture.