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Thanksgiving 2013 brings a new experience for Dick and me. For the first time ever, we are not sharing our Thanksgiving meal with family.
We are eating at the home of new friends! I am looking forward to this fresh approach to the holiday. While I miss our family, I welcome this privilege of sharing another family’s traditions and soaking up the blessings God never fails to pour out.
While it is a day of remembering to give thanks, as I grow older I also find myself reminiscing about past Thanksgivings. When I was a child, since Thanksgiving and turkey hunting season coincided, the men tramped through the woods all morning looking for the “big one”, while my mom, aunt, and grandmother cooked up a huge meal. We kids watched the parade on TV, played board games, and wiped the steam from the windows in the hopes of seeing a thick blanket of snow cover the ground.
The sweet and savory aromas wafting from the kitchen lured us there. You had to time it just right to claim the prized turkey liver, sneak a sliver of pumpkin or mincemeat pie, or be on hand to lick the beaters after the mashed potatoes were whipped up to a fluffy, white mountain topped with melting butter. For me, savoring a spoonful of mashed sweet potatoes crusted with golden-browned miniature marshmallows or crushed pecans equaled dessert.
About mid-day the men would return, rarely with a bird, and we would all sit down in my mom’s kitchen. Many years we created a verbal “Thankful for” list by going around the table and voicing our blessings before bowing our heads for grace.
With “Amen”, chaos erupted. We dug into the feast that included everybody’s favorites—tangy cranberry sauce, crushed crackers with gravy, green bean casserole, corn, cooked-in-the-bird filling, baked stuffing, warm dinner rolls, egg noodles, coleslaw, fruit salad, chocolate cream, lemon meringue, and the aforementioned pumpkin pie.
With marriages and births we needed a larger space. Since my Aunt Jan had a dining room as well as a kitchen, we moved to her house. For years we crowded in, with the overflow seated in the living room around card tables. When our cousins from Delaware began joining us, we outgrew Aunt Jan’s home and gathered in the basement of the Lutheran Church. The old upright piano, comfy, secondhand couch, and plenty of floor space made it a great location for our family.
As the years passed, married grandchildren moved away or were obliged to attend their spouse’s family’s Thanksgiving. Older loved ones spent Christmas with Jesus, leaving empty spaces at the table. Our younger families began their own holiday traditions. Now, instead on one huge meal, there are four or five smaller celebrations. Though saddened by the loss of our tight-knit connections, the tradition of thanks continues in ever-widening circles.
Where will you spend Thanksgiving this year? Are you, like Dick and I, beginning new traditions? Or will you be joining a gathering that has perpetuated for generations?
Wherever and with whomever you celebrate the holiday, know that each of you is on my “Thankful for” list as God has poured out His blessings on me this year through your many prayers and thoughtful posts.
In that day you will say:
"Give thanks to the LORD,
call on his name;
make known among the nations
what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Isaiah 12: 4
©2013 Pamela D. Williams