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A Serving of Thanksgiving with a Side of Culture


by Brad Ford Smith 26 Nov 2008

Guest blogger Brad Ford Smith is a Dallas artist and arts conservationist. I was out early Tuesday picking up some of the items on our Thanksgiving shopping list, items that will soon be transformed into numerous plates and platters of steaming, traditional goodness. The kind of food that after consumption turns even the loudest of […]

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Guest blogger Brad Ford Smith is a Dallas artist and arts conservationist.

I was out early Tuesday picking up some of the items on our Thanksgiving shopping list, items that will soon be transformed into numerous plates and platters of steaming, traditional goodness. The kind of food that after consumption turns even the loudest of our family conversations into low moans and slight nodes. I like to think of this as Thanksgiving afterglow.

While at the store, I also picked up a 2009 date book. So, after putting away the groceries and making some coffee, I settled down to transfer the dates from the 08 book into the 09 book. This trifle of bookkeeping is as much of a personal tradition for me as the turkey, cranberry sauce and the giblet gravy we serve at Thanksgiving.

This is my event. It is a quiet, reflective and solitary. It is the one time every year that I see laid out before me all of the birthdays of those people that are important to me and that I love. It is the time that I add one more year to August 26, the day I told the love of my life for the very first time that I love you.

This is the time that I flip through the pages of the old date book, reading and remembering what has transpired over the year. The parties, the dinners, the calls to happy hour. Movie dates, music nights and art openings. The big happy events of friends and family, and the sad passing of the same. I promise myself that this year I will send Christmas cards and birthday cards to everyone. And that I will make time to spend time with more people, and that I will let more people know just how much do I care.

Now, this may all sound more like the sort of thing that one should do at New Years, but New Years is too loud, too flashy. It feels too much like amateur night at the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader tryouts. Not that I am putting the DCC tryouts down, it’s just not the time or place to reflect on that day at Caddo Lake when we drifted quietly past a family of beavers sunning themselves on the bank.

Thanksgiving is basic. It is the most basic of all the holidays. It is simply about family, food and being thankful. So, for me, it all begins by picking up a new date book, and then selecting beautiful and sumptuous produce and meats that my wife and I, working as a team, slice, dice, marinate and bake into a banquette that we happily share with those who are able to join us.

Just so you know, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but I normally don’t wax on about it. I am doing so now only because Stephen Becker at Art&Seek asked me to write a blog about some of the artsy stuff that I am thankful for, and I guess I did mention some artsy things in an off-handed, cryptic kind of way. So let me correct that with a more culturally centric but still self-centered thankful list. Thanks to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for not only having some great shows this year, but also for providing me with the opportunity as an individual artist to make a difference in the way people experience art. Thanks to non-profits such as EASL and La Reunion TX for asking for my help. It makes me feel like I have made a contribution to the health and future of art in Texas. And even though I had nothing to do with it, I am grateful to CADD and DADA for their efforts in creating new energy and excitement in the local art scene …

The list goes on, but I want to stop here before things got to diluted, and state that I am very thankful to Anne Bothwell, Stephen Becker and the other staff members at Art&Seek for hosting a Web site where people like myself, artists with no journalism experience, have the opportunity to write about their experiences with art. This single action has caused a renewal and reinterpretation of my interest in the DFW art scene. It has also lead me to meet and talk with people that I would normally be too shy to approach.

So, to sum it up, whether it’s family, friends or culture, the things I am most thankful for are the opportunities that I have had this year to help and to give.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone,

Brad

For those of you in a reflective mood on Thursday, KERA (90.1 FM) will air a two-hour program called Giving Thanks 2008: A Celebration of Fall, Food and Gratitude from noon-2 p.m. The show, hosted by John Birge, serves as a contemporary reflection on the meaning of the holiday and includes writers and musical guests riffing on the subject.

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  • Betsy

    This is really beautiful, and I say that as one of those holiday-hating cynics whose goal this time of year is just to live through it without killing anyone. I will feel slightly calmer for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks, Brad.