When Black Friday Comes
I’ll collect everything I’m owed
And before my friends find out
I’ll be on the road
~Steely Dan (hear it here)
The other name for today? International Buy Nothing Day. I’m not making that up. Let’s hear it for counter programming.
Truthfully, I’d love to support the cause, but as I’ve mentioned my family is celebrating Thanksgiving this year on Saturday. Not that we didn’t have a lovely meal last night complete with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. But before we hit the road I need to stop in at The Cheese Traveler (who opens at 11am today) and pick up something stunningly delicious to knock the socks of my food loving cousin.
Then much like the fellow in the song, I’ll be hitting the road. Except I’ll be loaded down with delicious wines, meats and cheeses. Mrs. Fussy and the fussy little children will pile in the minivan with guitars, drums, books, and CDs for the three hour drive to Connecticut. And soon after we get there, we’ll be enjoying some great pizza and the comfort of my family.
But this Black Friday happens to have additional significance.
Today is the day we commemorate the passing of my grandfather. But I think of him quite often. Whenever I catch a whiff of Royal Copenhagen cologne, I think of him. Whenever I jokingly tease my children, I think of him. Whenever anyone mentions the Mets, I think of him.
And soon, when I’m surrounded by all his DNA in the form of my mother, my aunt, my sister, and my cousins, I’ll see him in all of them. And that will be comforting.
Tonight we’ll eat pizza, and pizza reminds me of Pappa Freddy too.
He lived down the street from two slice shops, Rosa’s and DiRaimo’s. My mother turned me on to Rosa’s, which I really enjoyed, especially the subtle hints of rosemary in their sauce. But my grandfather prefered DiRaimo’s, and I never argued. It was a solid place, and I loved to go with him and my kids, sharing a familial love of pizza that spanned generations. One day I’ll have to return.
Especially since many of the other places where I would go with Pappa Freddy no longer exist. The Hamburger Choo Choo has long burned down. Shea Stadium is no more. The world moves on, and even memories fade over time.
Luckily I still have his classic milkshake blender so I can make chocolate malts and think of the days as a child, when he would have to take the first sip of my special treat just to “make sure it was good for kids.” And when I tease my own children with the same refrain, I think of him too.
There are a lot of people who my family will miss having around the Thanksgiving table. Those who are no longer with us, those who are too frail to make the trip, and those who live too far away. While we may not spend much time lingering in the past, or wishing for a Thanksgiving that could have been, I think it’s sometimes good to take a moment and reflect.
I’m thankful for the loving family that surrounds me today and always.
They just better not get in between me and my Pepe’s clam pizza.