Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays - no worries about the right present or forgetting someone on your list. Just family, friends, food and football!! Does it get better than this?
As I sit on my couch this morning catching up on my feeds with a birthday cake in the oven and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on the television as background, I am thinking about our family traditions with this holiday. Coming from a large extended family where every event was a party, as the years have passed and families grown larger the festivities seem to have scaled back a bit. But we have preserved pieces for the next generation that I hope will continue.
As children, while my mother was busy prepping the turkey and getting things ready for dinner, we would sit glued to the parade on television. I remember the balloons of my day - Underdog, Snoopy, Superman - and watching the amazing musical numbers that would play. Of course, we made sure my parents were always in the room when Santa arrived to remind them that Christmas was not that far away.
My mom is a firm believer in naps and has passed that along to her children. After "cleaning for company" we would have to head upstairs to "relax" - we were always allowed to read, it just needed to be quiet time but she always seemed to know we would close our eyes for one minute that stretched to at least sixty. We would almost always be woken up with the entry of my grandparents - my grandfather and his ever-present whistling sneaking up the stairs to "check on us" but really nudging us awake if we hadn't already gotten up to hide and scare him when he entered the room.
My grandparents came early to be the first of the extended family to be there - but also so my grandfather could be sure to have their car be the first trapped in the driveway and therefore the last to leave despite my grandmother's not-to-subtle yawns and stony looks. My grandfather loved nothing better than having family around him. Slowly- family members would arrive, usually bearing some baked good or another. We would fall into playing with our cousins, looking through Sears and JCPenny catalogs to make our Christmas lists and daring each other to do something we knew the adults would get annoyed at. Sometimes - we would put together a play or musical number to the latest music to entertain the masses.
After dinner, which was a jumble of following thirty different conversations and misinterpreting at least ten of them, thereby causing at least one minor argument - tea would be brought out (we didn't drink coffee in my family) and the desserts would be cut. Not long after that - the doorbell would ring and more relatives would arrive. Cousins of my parents who were off at college or who had moved away with their families, friends who were friends so long they just were considered family, and always there was someone new who was braving meeting the family for the first time (no mean feat I must add!). Sooner or later - the card game would start and we could hear the pennies jingling as the adults separated to play cards or move into another room to continue gossiping and catching up.
Thanksgiving was a magical day that kicked off an entire season of family and feasting and storytelling while we were growing up. It is a bit different now - the dinner table is a bit smaller as time needs to be split with in-laws and relatives are much more far flung. My grandfather has passed and while my grandmother is with us physically and now lives with my parents, Alzheimer's has robbed her of memories and leaves her confused if too many people come to visit. My sibilings and I plan the Black Friday shopping schedule and make sure that cell phones are charged so we can text from different stores to be sure we cover the list. Instead of the card games, the Wii will be out and we'll be boxing or skiing or bowling. What has not changed is that our family is together - as quirky and as dysfunctional as the next one. And for that I am, and will always be, eternally grateful.
Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with your traditions and hoping that you all find the peace and happiness that I find on this day.