In a couple of weeks, Thanksgiving will be upon us and with that time of year comes the advertisements, the offers, the solicitations and the stress. Before we get there, let me invite you to come with me to a memory that I have and hopefully you have a similar one.
I remember a different kind of Thanksgiving. I remember a Thanksgiving where all morning long my aunts and uncles arrived with my cousins from as far as a hundred miles. We would wait with anticipation for each car to arrive and spill its occupants out into our yard. With each carload, the headcount would rise as would the noise level. By noon time, our house of five was filled past capacity with at least twenty five members of our extended family. Some years, there were more.
My mother would be busy in the kitchen and my father would be pretending it was just another day, but my brother, sister and I would wait by the large front window and act as “lookouts” waiting for the next arrival. As that car would turn into our driveway, we would run through the house yelling and screaming:
“Aunt Mary Voine and Uncle Jack are here!”
“Aunt LaPreal is here!”
My relatives had names like that; Adra, Sharon, Vera, Walter, Jack and others. Most of them are gone now and the cousins I used to play with are all grown, with children and grand-children of their own.
The women would gather in the kitchen, the men in the living room and the kids on the front yard for a quick game of football.
Soon enough, we would be called to the dinner tables. There were two tables, one for the kids and one for the grownups. I remember my first year of being advanced to the grownup table. It was a mixed blessing. On one hand, I felt very grown up but on the other, my mother demanded I take a “little of everything passed, even if you don’t like it.” My mother’s philosophy was some woman had worked hard on that bowl of (fill in the blank) and I had to eat it to show her respect.
The dining room would be filled to past capacity and the food and the talk flowed freely.
As I mentioned earlier, most of my aunts and uncles are gone now, but I often wonder if maybe they still join our families for our celebrations. My grandfather loved turkey and I find it hard to think of him not wanting to be there when a twenty pound bird is placed on the table for carving. I know he can no longer “take dibs”on the drumstick as he used to, but the love that was shared at those tables was more filling than the food and that, he can still enjoy.
My mother has been gone for more than thirty years, and I have yet to get through a Thanksgiving morning without thinking of her and remembering the care and attention she gave each item on the menu. In my mind, she still tastes this and takes a dab of that to make sure it is “just right”. I refuse to believe she no longer cares about such things.
I believe families can be forever and the gathering around the dinner table one day of the year is more than just teaching the kids table manners, it is also teaching us to love one another.
I cannot help but think that just because we “cross- over,” “pass through,” “go to the other side,” or just plain die that we stop loving and caring for those we leave behind.
I wrote a book about that a few months ago, and I have been told it is a great story. It is a novella, which means it can be read in one sitting, say, after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s called “Dear Emma,” it’s a Kindle book and it’s available on Amazon.com.
You may want to invite “Dear Emma” to your family’s get together this year. I promise you, she will be a welcome guest.
Just one last thought, if I am mistaken, and once we leave this life we no longer care about the holidays and happenings here, I have spent a lot of time eating foods I didn’t like.