“Cold, still, quiet morning” were my thoughts as I stood in the back yard, waiting for Dora to pick just the right spot. The duty done, I turned and went back into the house. My kitchen is clean—no potatoes peeled or cranberries in the pan, no turkey resting in a roaster, waiting to be rubbed down with butter and salt and pepper, no giblets floating in a pan of water that in a few hours would be gravy. No, just a cup of coffee waited for me in its insulated cup. I could have taken it back outside to reflect on thanksgiving pasts, but it’s more comfortable here in my recliner.
The first one I can remember was at my grandma’s far away in the country. Her tiny cabin was almost bursting at the seams with relatives, and her even tinier kitchen was filled with the women working elbow to elbow to prepare the feast. the men stood around with whiskey and soda in glasses that were refilled as they waited. At age 4 or so, I had my first experience with an outhouse. It was cold and smelly, and worst of all, I had accidentally dropped the candy I had been clutching in my hand down the hole, and that was tragic indeed.
Fast forward several years, and the next memorable Thanksgiving featured a drive with my grandmother, mother and brother to another relative’s home in Indiana. We had a flat tire, and my brother, on leave from the Air Force, fixed it with no fuss. The relative was a “little person,” so her countertops and sink in the bathroom were low enough for me as a tiny girl, and I was fascinated. their home was filled with beautiful antiques, as they were antique dealers. My mother worried that I would knock over their thousand-dollar lamp, so she watched me like a hawk.
When I had a family of my own, we hosted my husband’s family (He was the oldest of 12.) at tables set up in our family room. today, I cannot imagine how we fit everybody in. the next year, we rented a room at a church, but there was so much room that it felt cold and strange, with 3 feet between each seated guest.
One of my favorites brought 11 single friends together at my house. I had invited those who had no family nearby and would otherwise be spending the day alone. I told the smokers in the group that there would be no smoking and no football on this thanksgiving. One of the smokers admitted to me later that he couldn’t imagine a Thanksgiving without football, but later, he sent me the sweetest thank-you note saying it was the best thanksgiving he had ever had.
The most fun one of all came many years later, when my daughter was living with me while she earned her masters’ at OSU. We drove to another town to have dinner at an elegant restaurant. The food was good, but the fun part came afterward. We changed into jeans and sneakers in the car and began walking out of town on the bike trail there. When we reached the outskirts of town, I released my Seeing Eye ® dog and let her run and sniff to her heart’s content. Her nose was like a little shovel and she tracked some animal through the leaves. “This just made her little doggy day,” Kara observed. Mine too.
The funniest happened the Thursday after Kara and Scott’s wedding. Kara insisted that because Scott loved mashed potatoes, we should make 20 pounds’ worth. Of course, we had oodles left over, but it’s hard to convince a woman in love that she might be overdoing it. I loved that thanksgiving, because we’d eat the first course, then open some wedding gifts, have the main part of the meal, with mounds of mashed potatoes, and then go open some more gifts. By eating gradually, we could savor the food that had been prepared with love, and not rush through it. Dessert ended a long and luxurious afternoon.
I hope you all make lovely memories today.
Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”
Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261