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A Thanksgiving request

As you can imagine, my dad figures prominently in my memories of Thanksgiving. There are three things he did at every Thanksgiving dinner we had as a family.

First was the family photo. Dad was quite the amateur photographer (like his father before him, who had a darkroom in their basement), so he would set up his fancy camera atop a tripod at the entrance to the dining room and, right before we started eating, would take a picture of the nicely dressed family (and often friends) around Mom's beautiful table. Of course, before cameras became more automatic, there was an awful lot of fiddling with knobs and buttons to be done by my perfectionist father, thus trying all our patience and making our tummies rumble. This also caused our friend Stuart Davis to proclaim, "My teeth. Are getting. Dry" (you have to say it without putting your lips together, a somewhat desperate smile frozen on your face), which became just as much a tradition as the photo itself.

Next was the turkey carving. Dad perfectly and thoroughly (he was an internist, not a surgeon, though you wouldn't know it from his turkey carving skills). My niece Erica doesn't much care for turkey but waxes rhapsodic at the mention of ham. Given that this is our first Thanksgiving with Carl's new family, I thought I'd indulge her and bake a ham instead of a turkey. "It's easier," I thought. "It's faster. The kids will eat it." It was a few days before I realized that the real reason I was doing it was that slicing a ham is much easier than carving a turkey. Not that his absence will be any less keenly felt, but there it is.

Lastly, right before we dug into our plates of delicious food, there was a prayer. We always said grace before eating dinner together as a family (which we did nearly every night of my childhood), holding hands and singing the Johnny Appleseed song. But for special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, Dad always said a prayer. Eventually he wrote it down on one of the hospital call slips he used as scratch paper in his beautiful, nearly calligraphic printing (I have a photocopy of the original somewhere), which I later transcribed into a family cookbook.

And with that comes my request to you. If you say grace before your Thanksgiving dinner, would you be willing to say Dad's too? To me it epitomizes not only everything the holiday stands for, but everything Dad was--and it would mean so much to me and my family if you could invoke a little of his generosity and kindness with your loved ones this year.

Happy Thanksgiving, Team Eric. We are so thankful for you.

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