‘Tell me Dad, what was it like?’

Rob was in his forties, still trim with a youthful look, but wishing he was somewhere else, anywhere than where he was. How did you tell a ten-year old he and Mom were no longer friends?

‘Life was different when I was your age,’ he smiled tenderly at him and wondered how he had been so lucky to have such a great kid to share fun times with. Those times were all too scarce, but he always loved to share the time that he had with Mark.

‘Like how?’ Mark propped up in bed with expectation of an answer. It was well past bedtime.

 ‘So many ways,’ Rob thought carefully back to a time of a big dinner table laden with food and how his parents had invited a stranger to share Thanksgiving with them.  He had an idea. They could do it. Rob would talk it over with Millie before the night was out it would be a lot of trouble but if they wanted their child to be able to remember them being happy then this was their chance.

‘I’ll tell you tomorrow and we won’t leave it so late. Love you kid.’ Kissing his son on the forehead, he paused at the door. ‘Tomorrow evening I will tell you of the most wonderful day I had as a kid that I never ever will forget.’

He waited until Millie had settled moved onto her side of the bed and had settled down before telling her of his idea.

A thanksgiving party! The way we argue. You must be crazy’

‘Wait up Millie! It’s just a thought. It’s not about us. Don’t we want Mark to have happy childhood memories?’

‘Well you should have been helping more instead of being out all the time.’

‘I don’t have rich relatives to sponge off and all I’m asking is one dinner night with our son.’

‘Well I’m going away for thanksgiving.’


‘You heard,’


‘To my sisters,   I’ll be there for a week. You can decide what you want to do with yourself.’

‘You’ve planned it all. When were you going to tell me? No, on second thoughts,’ he paused and counted to three. ‘You’re not taking Mark with you.  He’s staying here for the duration. We’ll have some father-son time. No arguments. That’s the score.’

Rob turned over and switched off the bedside lamp.

‘That’s it then?’

Rob ignored the gruff tone Millie could inject into her sweet voice.

The following afternoon Millie was fixing milk and cookies for Mark.

‘Can I have a hot drink instead Mom?’

‘Well why didn’t you say?’


‘How would you like to spend Thanksgiving with your Aunt Tessa?’

‘I don’t know.  I don’t know her.’

‘Well it’s about time you did.’

‘Dad said . . . ‘

‘Forget it. Your Dad knows nothing Marcus. Have your bags packed and we will leave in an hour.’

‘My name is Mark. I don’t like Marcus.’

‘I named you Marcus. That how it is. When you’re eighteen you can change it, but I will always call you Marcus.’

A car pulls up outside.  Rob turns up earlier than expected with loads of festive grocery.

 ‘Hey buster.’  Trying not to show the emotion of how he feels about Millie in front of Mark

‘Dad gee am I glad to see you. Mom wants me to go with her to Aunt’ Tessa’s and I want to stay here with you.’

‘Good cos that’s what I would like you to do to and we are going to have a great Thanksgiving Dinner.’

‘What, just the two of us?’

‘We’ll see. We might have one just like I had when I was a kid.’

Millie stood gazing at the food in the paper bags and the look of glee on her son’s face.  

‘I didn’t’ expect you home yet.’

‘Going to your sister’s early I see.  I can’t change your mind I suppose, but as I said Mark and I are having father son time and that’s important. I don’t expect you to understand that, but I thought you wouldn’t treat our son like this.’

Tooting was heard from the roadside.

‘Bye Marcus I will see you in a week.’

The door slammed and for a moment both father and son were lost in their own thoughts. It would have been nice to have had one last Thanksgiving together.

‘OK Mark. Let’s get things organised. We can talk while preparing dinner and I will tell you how we can have the best thanksgiving. Your Mom might even change her mind.’

Rob wanted to keep Mark upbeat about a time when it should be about family, but he was going to have to try and explain to Mark that his Mom and he were splitting up, but Mark wasn’t surprised. He had seen how other children’s parents broke up.

‘OK’ raising his eyebrows, ‘first we need to send out invitations?  Write down a list of names of people we know Mark.’

There were ten names on the list and most of them friends. Some were on holiday overseas to get away from the cold.  Rob’s only cousin Zac was working in Hong Kong. It was decided that was short notice, but they would ask any way.

They were now down to four.

Rob explained the meaning of Thanksgiving, of the Pilgrims and of the end of the harvest season and then the idea he had thought of that he hadn’t done since he was a kid.

‘Mark you know on our way home we see a few guys lying in the store entrance at night and they have no home.

‘Yeah, Mom calls them tragic and says we need to be grateful and not end up like them.’

‘Well we agree on that at least. It’s tragic. Well when I was a kid at one Thanksgiving my Dad said we had enough food to feed us for several days so why not share it with others.’

So you mean take in some people – some homeless people and feed them?

‘Well maybe not here exactly but yeah, how would you feel about that?’

‘What would Mom say?’

‘Well she doesn’t want to be here so let’s think like men and try and help those less fortunate.’

The week is spent having dinner at the breakfast island while making the dining and living area spotless and arranging decorations made for the table. 

On the day the turkey is cooking and the roast potatoes and cranberry sauce is done to perfection. There is a knock on the door. Marks first guests have arrived. He shows them where to hang their coats and where the drinks are   There are the voices in the hallway of Zac who flew in all the way from Hong Kong to spend the time with the only living relative he knows, and to stay for a few days before flying back. There is a couple who were friends of Robs’ parents and talk of them often, it is one way that Mark learns about his grandparents that he never got to meet. Marjorie has brought her famous apple pie. Rob is relieved as his dessert idea has not worked out.  A new woman has moved into the neighbourhood from Australia. Lizzie has no idea of anything of Thanksgiving, but can explain a lot about barbeques.

 ‘So how will we know who is the homeless person? Do we give them a gift? Mark asks’

‘I will surprise you,’ smiling as he pulled out the skewer from the turkey to see that it was cooked properly. 

There was a solid knock at the door.

‘Sounds like a policeman’s knock doesn’t it?’ Rob said with confidence

The spare room was made up for those who will be staying overnight and there is room in the loft as well. Rob was glad he had converted the attic into a bedroom. He had thought one day they would have had another playmate for their son, but it didn’t happen that way.  He was thankful for having Mark.

‘Hi there Jack.’ looking at his officer in plain clothes.

‘Hi Rob,’ Jack lowered his voice, ‘look are you sure about this?’

‘Absolutely, and great you could get your shift moved. You look different out of uniform.’

‘So do you Captain,’ laughing out loud. ‘This is Tom, who I’ve been telling you about.’

Tom is slightly leaner,  about the same age as Rob and Jack and wears a beard, which he has trimmed Wearing a clean set of clothes, he is hardly recognisable to Rob or Jack who patrol that part of the beat where Tom resides

‘Tom, welcome to our home. Please feel relaxed. I will introduce you to everyone.’ 

Rob is beaming with pride. This is what Thanksgiving was like for him as a child. The giving and appreciation of good fortune; he wished Millie was here to see and be part of it.  

As they enter the room there was another set of introductions. Everyone is having a great time. They are all seated and the turkey is carved. Everyone has plenty of food and there is plenty of conversation. Lizzie, is on a six-month exchange with a hotel chain is explaining how she would be getting ‘the Barbie’ fired up if she was at home. She eyes up Rob’s cousin Zac and has made sure she is sitting next to him at the table

‘What do you do Tom?’ asked Lizzie much to the relief of Rob’s cousin Zac when her attention was turned to someone else.

‘At present I’m between jobs,’ hoping this would suffice.

‘Oh and before that?’

There was a pause and Jack was just about to intervene when Tom looked up at her. His brown eyes looking sadly at the Australian woman. I was a lecturer at a University. Foreign Languages and the History of language to be precise. Not a great deal of opportunity for these now I suppose.’

‘Oh you should go modern. You can learn a lot online.’

‘I’ll keep that in mind,’ Tom said drily.

‘I’ve always wanted to learn a new language,’ Jack looked over at his street sleeper friend.

Mom can speak French? Rob smiled

Rob could feel a slight tension in the air and decided to intervene.

‘When I was a little kid Mom and Dad would ask everyone at the table to say at least one thing they were grateful for having and one thing they would like to do for someone else.’

Oh yes,’ said Marjorie ‘that was fun. Shall I start . . ’ 

‘Well then, I am grateful for having a loving husband and appreciate being invited by my dear . . .   well you’re like another son Rob, so I appreciate being invited to your Thanksgiving.

‘I appreciate someone thinking of me, so far away and still thinking enough to invite me to their dinner. I miss home.’

‘I appreciate having a great job, and thank my lucky stars I have one, said Lizzie.

They went around the table until it came to Tom’s turn.

‘I appreciate every day, every sunrise and every sunset. And live in the hope of kind people to help me through each day until I can find a job.’

‘Amen to that brother.’ Rob quietly looking around.

‘I am grateful for my son, his mother and my friends here today and . . . .

The door opened and suitcase was left in the hall. Jack looked up . . .

‘Mom . . . You came back.’

‘Yes Marcus . . . sorry, Mark  sweetie,’

And I am grateful for my wife returning today . . .’

There was an impromptu applause as Rob and Millie gave one another a hug.

‘This is quite a party, well I think I know nearly everyone,’

‘This is Tom.’

‘Hello Tom, lovely to meet you.’ I know you.’

Tom shifted from one side to another on his seat.

‘Yes mam, I used to teach you.’

‘Of course, the most amazing teacher of languages I ever met. Improved my French and my English.’

‘Tom’s between jobs,’ Lizzie piped up.

‘Well not for long I hope. We have an opening at the local school, but you would probably want something more to do with . . .

‘I would be grateful . . .’

Millie was slightly surprised by the quick response.

‘OK, that's great. We’ll arrange an appointment for this week.’

Rob was thrilled to have his Millie back. They could work this out after all. There was a lot to be grateful for.









November 28, 2019 20:18

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Olivia Gilbert
18:45 Dec 12, 2019

Hi there! We were matched for the critique circle. I thought your story was really nice. It had conflict and resolution and I enjoyed the happy ending. I liked the premise of sharing food with the homeless and the sentiment of having special father-son time. One bit of more critical feedback I have is to always read carefully many times after writing. There were some typos and grammatical errors.


Carol Coupland
19:49 Dec 12, 2019

Thank you Olivia. I am pleased to hear you liked it and yes, after I posted it I realised there were some typos that I had neglected to correct. I think part of my problem is doing things in haste and another part is pitching to the market. I spell in English New Zealand and some of the spelling or punctuation is in American English. That aside, I will endeavour to be more vigilant with reading aloud before I submit. Thank you again. Your comments mean a great deal to me.


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