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Codger’s Column: Thanks for Thanksgiving

Codger’s frequent lunch buddy, Ye Esteemed Shakespearean (YES), last week rolled his eyes theatrically (the air seemed to crackle) when Codger said, “Ye Know Who is back on the front page and we don’t know if Shelter Island has passed Proposition 3 yet. What’s there to be thankful for?”

“Are you serious, man,” YES rumbled, (it sounded like a storm at sea.) “You are breathing, yes? You are alive.”

That’s what good friends are for. Codger’s despair immediately evaporated. He was alive. That’s where it all starts. Forget about the doctor’s appointment, the book in limbo, the noise and dirt of construction next to the house, much less the relentless oppression of national politics.

And Thanksgiving was right around the corner.

As he keeps reminding everybody, Thanksgiving is Codger’s favorite holiday, a festival of family, food and fun that turns Crone’s table into the most joyous common ground. How can you even say “affordable housing” when your mouth is full?

This year, there will be merely a dozen around that table, from 10-years-old to 84, from the East End to the West Coast.

There are some years, thinks Codger, that we need Thanksgiving more than others to reground us in what is important, like breathing and hugging. The rest of the stuff comes and goes. Do you think the latest squabbling is symbolic of a pending apocalypse?

Do you remember how your liver quivered a few years ago at the sheer hate that neighbors were lobbing at each other like artillery shells over, um, short-term rentals? What was that all about? How did it turn out? You are still breathing, yes?

It’s not that Codger has decided to stop caring about the rest of the stuff, although his rising blood pressure and diminishing mental health would be a good excuse. No, it’s that he has decided to stop caring about the rest of the stuff for right now.

This is the time to postpone the plethoras of petty passions. To go slack. Get silly.

Codger will divert himself by telling his grandchildren fantastic stories of the First Thanksgiving after the hareleggers landed at Kissing Rock, when Commander Cody made the first fish feast to spare the plovers and Bob DeStefano, who had just invented golf, created an after-dinner game called Trivia. The winning question was: Who made the longest speech so far in the New World? Easy.

The trophy is on Jim Colligan’s mantel to this day. It was actually a very informative speech, about moorings.

Did you laugh, at least smile, or did you roll your eyes? Do you think the times are too perilous for sophomoric humor? Codger doesn’t care what you think right now. He’s still all about giving thanks for Thanksgiving and taking a break.

At the moment, Codger refuses to be drawn into any controversies about affordable housing that could spoil his appetite. Also don’t ask why there are so many Lee Zeldin signs still upright.

Are they not worth stealing? Can you imagine if Zeldin had won? There would be concealed carry on Goat Hill. (Smile when you say I kicked my ball, pilgrim.)

Stop that.

Codger was eating lunch with YES when Crone called with the news. Proposition 3 had squeaked to victory on Shelter Island, well after other East End towns had learned they had passed it. YES cocked an eyebrow (the earth trembled) and said, “And what does that verily mean?”

A good question. A Proposition 3 naysayer had recently told Codger that the proposition was actually a referendum on Supervisor Gerry Siller’s administration.

A “No” vote was a vote against the Town Board’s lack of coherent planning. Codger thought that was yet another convoluted attack on affordable housing, which many second or third homeowners don’t think can make them richer, so who needs it? That’s the same destructive thinking that wonders why Shelter Island needs a school.

Codger was satisfied with the Prop 3 result, at least as a repudiation of the local campaign to peddle the notion that collecting taxes on the sale of $1 million-dollar-plus houses for future affordable housing would only be an invitation to steal by future politicians. That was probably a projection of what they would do. The sky darkened.

Stop. Codger was not going to spend any more time even thinking about such things, not when there was a family Thanksgiving ping-pong tournament to oversee and towels to be stockpiled for the library’s annual Turkey Plunge, a rite for the grandkids. In fact, he was not even going to spend any time explaining any propositions to the family.

“That is excellent,” declaimed YES, “although I must say I don’t like my lines, rhythmically.” (Nevertheless, the sun came out.)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Don’t talk when your mouth is full.