Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving Past

"If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It's a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it's time to reflect on what's come before."

--Mitchell Burgess, Northern Exposure, Thanksgiving, 1992

I miss the Thanks-
givings of my past. I didn’t know how much I enjoyed them until they slowly disap-
peared. As a child lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather at the appointed house for the holiday festivities of food and football. For years I was the youngest one in the family until my older cousins and siblings started having kids of their own. I was closest in age to my cousin, Vicki. We would sneak past the tables before they were officially open and place black olives on each of our fingers and delight in eating them one by one. (I am befuddled to this day that neither of my children even like black olives. Can they possibly be my offspring?) The lingering memories are festive and warm even though I resented always sitting at “the kid’s table” and my mother was usually totally stressed out during the time surrounding the day. I can still, however, smell the pumpkin pies that were always baking when I came home from school on the Wednesday before and that smell is still pure comfort to me.

Those times are long since gone. In between were Thanksgiving celebrations with the family of my first husband, often including my mother since my brother and sister no longer traveled the long distance home and my father had died soon after I started college. The next memories I recall were as Bill (my husband of 20+ years) and I shared Thanksgiving in Tulsa with his sisters who also lived there. One of the defining moments of my life came as I prepared my first turkey in my own home at the ripe old age of 28. It dawned on me that somehow I had become “the” adult.

When we moved to Seattle in 1989, we found ourselves in the midst of a motley assortment of Thanksgiving guests including random cousins, Bill’s parents and friends we met as new residents to the city. For years we created our own family and it was my house filled with the smell of pumpkin pies, roasting turkey and young children’s laughter. Somewhere in time, things started to slip away. Cousin’s graduated from school and moved away. Parents decided the drive was too risky through the mountain pass. Friends drifted toward other places and cities. Children grew up.

So today, I find myself one week away from the holiday with no plans. (We were originally invited to be with friends, but life circumstances have removed that option.) My kids keep asking the question, “What are we doing for Thanksgiving?” I don’t know. And while I realize that I have so much for which to be thankful and my gratitude is immense, I still long for a house full of family and for my stressed out mother who has long since passed away. I want someone else to be “the adult.” I realize this may sound a little selfish or at least self-centered, because I know there are millions of people with no home, no family, no food & no warm memories. Please understand, my caring heart does not diminish their sufferings. And still…

I miss the Thanksgivings of my past and today (in the present), I wonder what the future will hold. What does this holiday season evoke in you?

"pumpkin pie" from wikipedia

11 comments:

Country Parson said...

Hey, CP and SS would love to have you travel east a few hours to join us. Our Thanksgiving these last seven years has become something very special. A long standing custom here is to have a congregational thanksgiving dinner, and a hearty crew of about 30 or so come every year. What makes it grand? Turkeys and hams enough for all. Each family brings two or three of their very best side dishes - enough to share with everyone. So the whole feast is delicious. And everyone actually wants to be there. At the end, a quick clean up leaves the place spotless and all go home to clean kitchens. C'mon over!!!

lucy said...

this blogging stuff is sooooo cool. i considered waiting to see if any more invitations came through, but my other half has already agreed it sounds like a splendid idea :-)

so, what time is turkey on thursday?

Geezer Dude said...

There are only six people expected at the Geezer's place. There is certainly room for two, four, or six more. The trip is a bit longer, but it can be made.

Pumpkin pie is not currently on the agenda, but for you we would add it. M makes the best!

Many years ago, M & I were lamenting that we were on our own for Thanksgiving. We called up Continental Airlines and got a great deal to Denver. Then we got another invitation in Houston. We ended up having dinner with friends in Houston and traveling to Denver for a small family event.

You might try doing WW and B'ville! How cool would that be?! If that is too much at one time, we could pick another weekend. I can record some football games. We can eat too much and then fall asleep in front of a football game. How would that be for nostalgia?

D

lucy said...

GD--very tempting, but i just checked the airfare and $2000 for pumpkin pie (even M's best) is a little steep for a taste of nostalgia.

thanks for the invite...and please spare your recording space of football games...all i really need is the first 5 minutes and i'm out :-)

Country Parson said...

SS sys WOW! The B&B is open. Turkey time is 2:00 on Thursday, but we'll be there early to help get ready.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Amen! Can't wait to see you all - this celebrating the birthday for a month is terrific!:)

storyteller said...

Lucy
One more commonality ... for I was the youngest for a LONG time and remember those large family gatherings with fondness. My cousins ended up having kids who were closer in age to me than they , but many of their kids were older than me. My mom was youngest of 5 kids and my dad second youngest of 13 (raised on a farm in Kansas) and he married her later in life ... was 42 when I was born. Made for interesting times actually.

I've not made definite Thanksgiving plans yet. My sister is on the road with her husband (and will be for the next few years if all goes as planned), my best friends are RV-ing also and don't plan to return until December, I have invites from my sister-in-law in Hemet (a considerable drive) and a couple of other more local friends ... but I'm thinking it might be interesting to do something different this year. I'm mulling over a few volunteer possibilities in the area.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

storyteller - here's some trivia - my mother grew up in Olathe, KS

storyteller said...

Lucy ... You've been tagged for "7 Random Things"! Check out the Rules at Small Reflections (together with MY list). Hope you'll decide to play. :)
Hugs and blessings,

Sunrise Sister
Small world indeed. I'm not familiar with the midwest myself (having never visited) but my dad grew up in Elk County just outside a town called Howard, Kansas. If he'd had his druthers, we'd have grown up on a farm like he did ... of course my mom was "a city gal" and would have none of it. :)

The Dream said...

Black olives on each finger - oh yeah! I was responsible for putting out the olives, celery sticks, and relishes.

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday for me. I DO miss the ones of the past, mainly because it makes me realize how quickly time passes. I am #6 of seven children, so there was always mucho activity in our house. The nieces and nephews came along - the more the merrier. Then, I moved South and things were just different.

This year we are heading up to see my family in New England, which I haven't done in years. I will have the opportunity to see my 94 year old father, my sister-in-law with breast cancer, my nephew with mitocondrial disease, and the majority of my ever-growing, ever-changing family.

I get what you mean about feeling as though you became an adult when you cooked your first turkey - that was a defining moment for me, as DRY as it was!

Time DOES fly ... and so I'm flying North.

lucy said...

thank each one of you for sharing your hearts and your thanksgiving memories and plans with me!

it is truly a day to be grateful!!