THANKSGIVING 2006 - Hardly a day goes by in the life of an 8-year-old girl that does not in some way rely upon the selfless efforts and contributions of the many, many people in her world.
And, like an acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, in which infinite sources of help and inspiration must be acknowledged in a few breathless sentences, Fallon’s construction paper cornucopia has space for only as much gratitude as can fit onto a small collection of paper fruits and vegetables.
It’s impossible really.
You can’t begin to list them – those innumerable people whose contributions, both large and small, to her welfare and happiness, make up the very fabric of her extraordinarily fortunate eight-year-old life.
To make even the tiniest little dent in a list like that would require far more than the space of a few paper food items. As it is, she has only a green pepper, a small pumpkin and an apple to work with. I can’t imagine how she even begins to whittle a list that must have seemed overwhelming from the outset.
Perhaps she begins by asking for more vegetables.
But of course, her third-grade teacher, wrangling her own limitations within the time-space continuum, would have shaken her head sadly and said, no. Like the Academy Awards, the elementary school day production cannot go over its allotted time.
And so, she would have had no choice but to begin wrestling with the incredible pressure that those three little vegetables and fruits must have presented. Because there are not only people to be thankful for in the life of an eight-year-old girl. There are animals. There are inanimate objects. There are all of those fabulous Disney Channel television shows where sparkly, overindulged pre-teens have to juggle both middle school and music careers.
It is hard to say where she begins - the contents of a cornucopia present themselves in no discernible order – but at some point she chooses a green paper pepper and thinks of her father: "I am thankful for my dad because he prepares most of the food like the turkey pumpkin pie sometimes I help with the pumkin pie oh well," she writes.
Then she continues. "He also built the whole kitchen. Last, he buys most of the uncooked food."
It would be silly to quibble over accuracy in the face of such sentiment. Who cannot smile picturing this little girl imagining her father lugging home the groceries to the kitchen he built with his own hands, where he will single-handedly prepare the Thanksgiving feast, to be shared by the little girl, her brother, her grandmother and.. well, you get the picture.
And so she thinks of her grandmother, to whom she generously devotes an entire pumpkin of thanks. "This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my grandma because she is the only family member that we know is coming. I am also thankful for her because she is a really big help to our family. My grandma is just nice to have around."
Again, how can you not smile at this thoughtful, grateful, lucky little girl who is thinking of her grandmother and her dad?
Only an apple is left to be inscribed and glued on to the cornucopia of thankfulness. And here, of course, I imagine Fallon makes one more plea for additional paper, maybe just a small handful of grapes? I can see where she might have squeezed them in. But of course, her teacher must say no. You can’t really blame her. As soon as you let one student have a few extra grapes, someone else is going to want a pear, and before you know it, it’s chaos.
At this point, like a nervous actress rushing through a list of her lawyers and publicists, Fallon is probably thinking, "I know I am going to leave somebody out. There are just too many people to thank. I am such a lucky, lucky little girl."
And her thoughts turn to nature.
"This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my rabbits because when I am done I have someone to cuddle with. I am also thankful for them because they can eat my broccoli for me. Last, they always love to play with you."
And who can disagree?
© 2007 P.M. Dunnigan/Suburban Kamikaze