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This Week's Issue: Homer leaves his cynical view of the holiday season behind and relates his true feelings about Thanksgiving and what it means to Isabel and the staff here at Faded Glory. Homer does have a serious side, but we rarely get to see it.

Yes, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Even though it isn't a religious holiday, many of my human counterparts will inject their own individual brand of spirituality into the day and make it their own.

As a dog, just like your kids, I find Thanksgiving to be all about turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Okay, scraps define my day! Sprinkle in some mythical stories of grateful pilgrims and their trusting Indian friends, and you can come up with a plethora of romantic tales of selflessness and good will.

But, even though I'm just a dog, the true meaning of the holiday hasn't really been wasted on me. I am really quite refined and sensitive. Even I can feel a rising tide of joy here at Faded Glory as Isabel, Louella, Micah and Hank scurry around making final preparations for the "great calorie harvest." Unlike Christmas, there are no deep underlying religious overtones, scripture, or dogma ruling the day. Taken on it's own merits, Thanksgiving is a pause in which y'all can look at your lives and be grateful for the wonders that your Maker has bestowed on you. Wow, that's pretty powerful stuff coming from a mutt like me!

Tomorrow, as it is with any Thanksgiving here at Faded Glory, paying guests will not be present because the Inn is officially closed for the holiday. Isabel has invited Pauline Patrick, Rita Gonzalez, Hank Beavers and Willa Jean Turner, Micah Davenport, and, of course, Ms. Louella Hightower Hess to join us for the feast. Ed Hightower, Isabel's new soulmate, will spend Thanksgiving with his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren near Akron, Ohio this year. When Isabel found out that Mildred Hembree would be alone for the holiday, she invited Mildred along with Lisa Tipton, our neighbor Randy Tipton's recent widow, for the day as well. All in all, there will be a total of nine at our table tomorrow, and everyone has been busy getting Faded Glory cleaned, polished and ready for the big feast.

I could launch into a lengthy narrative describing the laborious food preparation that is taking place in Louella's kitchen, and, being a dog, that is, to me, a primary interest. Instead, I thought I would attempt to fathom the true meaning of the day for each of us. Here at Faded Glory, Thanksgiving won't turn out to be a 'pity party,' but several of our folks are coming off what might be described as a bad year, and, for others, 'things are looking up.'

Pauline Patrick, the newest member of our housekeeping staff, currently resides at the County Womens' Shelter, having endured three years of a "living Hell" with an abusive husband. She is planning to share an apartment with her friend and co-worker at the Inn, Rita Gonzalez, after the first of the year.

Rita Gonzalez, our senior housekeeping staff member, lives alone at a rooming house in town and has no family in the area. Rita sends most of her earnings to support her family in Mexico. Rita, who is divorced, hasn't seen her children in more than three years, but she is planning to fly home to see them this Christmas. Rita became a U.S. citizen just last year.

Hank Beavers was recently promoted to full-time status here at the Inn, and he plans to set a wedding date in June. He has been spending his weekends and days off building his 'honeymoon love nest' on his newly-inherited property in Suches. Hank and his fiancé, Willa Jean, are very excited.

Mildred Hembree, a longtime neighbor and widow, is now alone since her son, Mark, was accepted at Wake Forest's School of Divinity in North Carolina. Mark plans to become a Baptist minister in this area after he is ordained.

Another longtime neighbor, Lisa Tipton, recently lost her husband Randy to a series of strokes that claimed his life just two months ago. Randy had just turned 55. Like Isabel and Ray, Randy and Lisa had no children, making Lisa's readjustment much more difficult. Lisa plans to stay busy working in their apple orchard.

Our own dear Louella Hess has made a remarkable comeback after her auto accident earlier this year. She is grateful to be walking without her cane, and even though she walks a little slower now, she is just as feisty as ever. Micah frequently comments that "Louella will outlive us all," and I truly believe that she will.

Isabel mentioned the other day that she views Thanksgiving as a day of self-evaluation, introspection and healing. I, for one, am very grateful to be a part of her life and to live in her home. Isabel is, and has always been, a very optimistic person, and those of us around her have many times drawn from her vast reservoir of positivity and confidence. I have a feeling that Thanksgiving this year will be a healing experience for us all.

Today, as the workday comes to an end and Isabel's Faded Glory "family" prepares to leave for the day, Faded Glory Farm is decorated, polished, and resplendent in the fading sunlight. I can't help but think that if Ray Whitlow could see his beloved, earthbound legacy today, he would be most proud.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us -- to you and yours!

© 2010-2011 David Johnson, All Rights Reserved