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Opinion: Glorious fall

Fall is my favorite time of year, except this year not so much. This week Fred would have celebrated his 76th birthday. On the day after Thanksgiving, we would have been married 43 years. Coupled with my birthday back in October, autumn has always signaled the end of the scorching San Joaquin summer and a time of celebration.

I had fun at the Rotary Halloween Ball and at a small party with my neighbors in one of our parks. We got very few trick-or-treaters but, living in a gated community, that is to be expected.

The stores and many of the people on Facebook are already celebrating Christmas. Trees going up, holiday baking begun and houses being decorated.

I find it sad people are blowing past Thanksgiving when it is every bit as important as Christmas.

Americans should be thankful for the bountiful goodness that is our everyday life. The first formal observance of Thanksgiving was Nov. 1, 1865, by proclamation of President Andrew Johnson. In 1869 President Ulysses S. Grant designated the third Thursday of November as Thanksgiving, but it was celebrated the last Thursday in November, until FDR finally designated Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November.

My Thanksgiving Day always begins with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My fondest childhood memories have my cousins Kary, Lori, Gay Kirk and me sleeping on the den floor at Uncle Pete and Aunt Nada Kirk’s house on Fresno Street and waking up early to watch the parade.

My mom’s older brother J.B., his wife Bel and their three kid, Jay, Gay and Ray Kirk would usually come from Tulare for the holiday.

As soon as they got to Madera my cousin Jay would call my parents’ house. They would in turn bring me to town to play with my girl cousins while he hung out with my brothers, Rocky and Brian Hill.

That was the procedure every time the Tulare Kirks visited Madera.

Back then my mother’s family was fairly large. Her sister Clara Banks and brothers J.B., Pete and Richard Kirk would either come to our house or Pete’s house for the food-fest.

Family lore has it that my mom’s younger brother Nealon went to the store for a loaf of bread one day and never returned. We lost Richard “Dude,” at a fairly young age too.

Family holidays are such a good memory. When held at our house there were always things to do and room in which to do it.

We had five-acres and a menagerie of livestock. During my childhood my father had every domestic farm animal he could get.

We had a milk cow and calves procured from Ed and Ernie Sagouspe. They would give daddy a few calves and we would bottle feed them until they were old enough to be weaned. We kept a couple and returned the rest.

The ones we kept were butchered by “Gus’ Food Locker.” We always had a freezer full of fresh beef we raised ourselves.

This farm kid learned early to not name an animal that might end up on the dinner table.

Daddy also raised pigs, chickens, ducks, gennies, pigeons, rabbits and a couple of horses through the years.

I used to sell eggs to the neighbors for 50 cents a dozen. If I sold two dozen eggs, I would have enough money to go swimming at the high school pool and have the other 75 cents for French fries and a cherry-lime-rickey at the Big Top!

I usually went to summer school every year in hopes I could go swimming after school.

Hanging out at the Madera High School was about the coolest thing ever. When the pool closed, I would walk across the street to my Uncle Tom and Auntie Marge Kocoris’ house.

They weren’t related to us, but instead my parents’ best friends. In our house children addressed adults either by their surname or by the familial “aunt and uncle.”

Uncle Tom and Auntie Marge “stood up,” with my parents when they were married. “Stood-up,” is the way my parents always phrased it.

They were married in the livingroom of the pastor at the Church of Christ on Central and B streets. A church built in part by my grandfather and the other men in the congregation.

My mother and father married between her junior and senior years of high school. When I was a sophomore my bestfriend Donna Chandler got married. Daddy freaked out. Donna and I had been best friends since second grade. We were like two peas in a pod. Daddy was sure I was going to run away and get married too.

Believe me, I had better sense. Watching my parents’ marriage fall apart made me vow to never get married.

Then I met Fred, but that’s another story, for another day.

Long days and pleasant nights. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, then get ready for Christmas.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.


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