Thanksgiving in 2019 will be familiar, yet very different. Our family will get together, and we will have a meal. I’m so happy we can do this. I’m happy to have a good family populated with people I love dearly and who tolerate, and perhaps even love me.
I experienced my first Thanksgiving in November of 1950 as barely a one month old baby. I think I was still in Trion at that point and Daddy was still home on leave from the Navy. I’m not 100% sure though. I know that by Christmas of 1950, Mom had gone back to Blue Ridge to live with her parents until Dad finished his Naval service in late 1952.
Once we were all back together as a family, and as far as I can remember…which was probably around 1955-56, we celebrated around our table together as a family of four. Mom, Dad, me and my brother. I don’t remember anybody else being there. No Aunts and Uncles or cousins. No grandparents, except my Dad’s Mother Laura, perhaps once or twice. There were no huge family gatherings as a child. They were smaller and much more intimate. The turkey or ham we had in those days was small, the vegetables were few, perhaps mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and a deviled egg or two. Those deviled eggs. My Mom made the best. Perhaps a sweet potato pie for desert.
The years progressed and I grew up and married and had kids, as did my brother, and the Thanksgiving meals grew. There was suddenly, before we knew it, my family of five, and Mike’s of four. Nine plus Mom and Dad made eleven. I remember my Dad had a shirt made which said something like “family of eleven”. (He also had one that said “old as dirt” which I have, but I ain’t wearing!) He was proud of the family he and Mom had helped create. He was a proud Dad and even prouder Grandfather. (As was Mom, though she want the demonstrative type)
The turkeys got much larger to accommodate a large family. The vegetables multiplied. The desserts showed up, and became more complex. Cranberry sauce AND whole cranberries appeared. The celebrations were noisy, punctuated with the sounds of football games in the background and footballs being thrown around outside. Cars were washed. The noisy voices of our little kids, running, singing, fussing. All of it happened in real time! Time which passed so very quickly, like a storm front screaming across the landscape through those years. Such were the mid 70’s through the mid 90’s.
As my parents grew old in the late 1990’s or so, they couldn’t host Thanksgiving any longer and started coming to our house, or to my brothers. One or both most years. Double the turkey!
We had children who were married by then and had kids of their own. The numbers of family had grown large. My folks got to know and love most of their “older” great grandchildren. They had Thanksgiving at our house last in 2008. Frail and gray, but still hungry for Turkey. As I posted the other day, I took my Mom Thanksgiving leftovers to the “Cozy Manor” in 2010. She passed away in early December. Dad had died in May of that year. Thanksgivings were over for them.
I’m grateful to my parents for the life they gave me. The chance to be a human being, live a life, find love and have a family of my own. There’s a lot of us now. My wife and I last hosted Thanksgiving at our house in 2016. Now, tomorrow…we are going down to my son’s house for our celebration. It’s a circle of celebration that my folks started back in the mid fifties, and one which I hope continues a few years longer.
Certainly of all the things I treasure the most, time with my family ranks at the top. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving day tomorrow.