The best part about doing a lot of interstate travel on familiar terrain is that at least a portion of your mind can focus on other things…like how great Fernando Ortega’s voice is and how blessed you are to have so many great Thanksgiving memories.
When I was growing up, we spent every Thanksgiving that I can remember at my maternal grandmother’s place. Filled with family and great food and lots and lots of laughter, it is still very much alive in my memory despite the fact that it has been many years since we all gathered there.
Grandmother didn’t have a TV. That meant no sports or politics or animated characters to keep us entertained. It was up to us and we managed just fine.
The women gathered in the kitchen bringing dish after dish of deliciousness to tables that literally groaned with the weight of it all…and left precious little space for those who later tried to sit around them. It wasn’t an ostentatious display of abundance. It was necessary. My mother was one of 10 kids and there were usually at least 5 or 6 of them who showed up with their families for any given weekend. Holidays meant even more and the number of aunts, uncles and cousins along with my own immediate family often numbered north of 70 when we factored in a few extras always brought in for the fun.
Then men used the time to shoot skeet, make sure there were no necessary repairs or trees that needed cutting, organizing the kids in games of hide-n-seek (the uncles usually hid up in the trees!), pitching silver dollars or making a game of having us pick up all the sticks in the expansive yard so we could have a bonfire later in the afternoon.
Once the sticks were piled (all in the proper direction according to my Uncle Lacy), we were free to roam…and roam, we did! Little bands of two, three or more were often visible through the trees as the girls made pine straw houses and the boys explored the pond. Those who preferred the indoors played endless games of Monopoly, Scrabble and cards. By the way, I’m absolutely certain that if there was an international Scrabble champ, it would be from my family…and there would be several contenders. We took it really seriously. There were no quitters and there was very little tolerance for bad losers. It always made for a “spirited” exchange.
After the main meal was over, my Cousin Suzanne and I would walk up and down the road in front of Grandmother’s house. Sometimes it would start out as just the two of us, but it gradually added and added until there was quite the little group. Full of food and breathing in the scent of decaying autumn leaves and the scent of wood smoke, we shared our lives and our hearts and our dreams and we never—not even for a moment—believed they couldn’t all come true.We weren’t rich and we weren’t famous, but we were family and each one knew that was something really special. We might have looked more like the Clampetts than the Kennedys on occasion, but our loyalties were firmly entrenched. They still are. We still gather together and though the numbers are fewer and the faces change based on the schedules, we’re still family and in my mind, at least, I will see each of them this Thanksgiving…as they were…as they are…and I will be grateful for each of them.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! Here’s hoping you have your own wonderful memories of the season…and the opportunity to make more of them this year!
Grace & Peace!