Commentary: Moments, memories and the holiday season

By John Krull 

INDIANAPOLIS – A few Thanksgivings ago, my uncle – my father’s older brother – and some of my cousins came to join us.

Something came up, and my father couldn’t make it to the feast.

John Krull, publisher,

My uncle talked with Dad on the phone and teased him about not making the trip in. My father returned serve and ribbed him back.

I sat and listened to one half of a conversation in which two octogenarians gave each other grief and laughed about it, just as they had been doing for more than eight decades.

When my uncle hung up and handed me the phone, he had a grin on his face as wide and deep as the ocean.

On another Thanksgiving, my aunt, uncle and cousins on my Mom’s side of the family came for Thanksgiving.

When we were kids, we saw each other often. We spent many holidays together, gathering often with our widowed grandfather, who died when I was in college.

But life took my cousins and me down different paths. Now, we see each other only rarely.

That Thanksgiving, though, we were able to get together.

After we’d eaten, my cousins Dave and Tom and I retired to the living room, where we sat before a roaring fire and sipped Scotch as we caught up. We brought each other up to date on our lives, then started telling stories.

One of my cousins recounted an episode from our boyhoods. It cracked us up – and there we were, three middle-aged guys with full bellies bent over, laughing like school boys.

In a flash, I’d traveled back more than 40 years, to the days when my grandfather still was alive, and we all were kids. I could hear my grandfather’s crackling laugh once more and it warmed me more than the fire or the Scotch did.

Not too many Thanksgivings ago, my daughter’s best friend and her parents spent Thanksgiving with us.

They had moved away, and the girls didn’t get to see each other as often as they would like. This saddened both sets of parents.

After we’d devoured our meals, the girls escaped down to our basement, which doubles now as a teen sanctuary. The adults hovered in the kitchen, sampling pumpkin pie and sipping wine.

At one point, the four of us heard shrieks and peals of laughter exploding from the basement. My wife and I reached for each other’s hands and smiled at each other. I leaned over to kiss her hair.

When I looked up, I saw my daughter’s friend’s parents also had embraced, happy, like us, that our girls’ friendship had triumphed over distance and separation.

On yet another Thanksgiving, my younger brother came over. My son just had discovered an abiding passion for sports. He worshipped my brother, who had been a high school athlete.

There still was some work to be done in the kitchen before we could eat. My son begged, wheedled and cajoled my brother to go out in our yard and throw the football with him.

They trotted outside.

I watched from a window as my son and my brother tossed the pigskin back and forth. My son’s grin split his face. My brother began to smile, too.

Soon, they both were throwing their heads back and laughing as the football flew back and forth between them.

As they guffawed, they tilted their heads in the same, almost tribal fashion – exactly the way my father and I do.

We’re now in the season of gratitude.

We give thanks for family, for friends, for health, for material comfort and other great blessings.

This is as it should be. Those things matter. They loom large in our lives. Happiness is hard to find without them.

But even as we celebrate these big things, we also ought to reserve a little gratitude for the small moments, the ones that show us how we fit in and just how nice it is to be alive and in the presence of those we love.

Happy Thanksgiving.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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