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Monday, December 1, 2014

A Last Bit of Reflection



Days of prep and days to recover, but I have Thanksgiving in my heart, and yesterday, as I walked off some of my food related misdemeanors from last week, I realized why.  During our oh-to-short gathering with extended family, a sixteen year old nephew told me how much he loved coming to our house for Thanksgiving.  Our twenty-six year old niece tells us it her favorite holiday too.

Twenty years ago, my husband and I volunteered to take Thanksgiving off of his mother’s shoulders which meant entertaining some combination of seven of his siblings, plus spouses, and children.  That first time, I was clueless how much effort it would take.  Our daughter, and several nieces and nephews were toddlers and I stepped over crawlers while trying to get dinner on the table.  I don’t even remember how many came that time, just that we managed through it and decided we could do it again.  And then again.  Who knew it would become a tradition?

Now, we look forward to it.  We have lists of what to accomplish each day leading up to a feast in which anywhere from twenty to thirty-plus folks may show up.  We know that on the day, Uncle John will arrive with a bunch of sides and join me in the kitchen where he’ll assure me the turkey is cooked, the stuffing is hot enough, and yes, it’s time to serve.  This year, our daughter made the pies, three delicious additions that saved me a half day of work.  Unbeknownst to me, one state away, the aforementioned twenty-six year old niece took over from Uncle John—her dad.  She made his traditional offerings, squash, sweet potatoes and veggie casserole.  When the "adults" (read that as, those of us with grey hair) sat down at the table, we marveled. “Look at us, passing it down to the next generation.” 

Across from each other, filling three of four adjoining tables, a group of cousins, those long ago “crawlers” talked about their jobs and college as if they’d been together the week before.  Those present live in five different states between them, and all of them (including the missing coast guard boys stationed in FL, and CA and one niece living in SC) keep in touch by a group text.  As I marveled about that, I realized Thanksgiving is one of the reason why.  This one day a year they're together keeps them bonded, in spite of schedules that make it impossible for them all to meet up at the same place any other time.

As I power-walked yesterday, trying to burn off the sins of dip, creamed onions and pie, I recognized  over the last twenty years, my husband, daughter and I have made memories, but not just for ourselves.  Someday, long after my generations is gone, the cousins will reminisce about their childhood Thanksgivings gathered as family at our house, and will remember joy.  That's an unexpected  life accomplishment for which I’m feeling pretty thankful.

12 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You'll leave a legacy of tradition and memories for them.
Glad you have help now with the meal, because I can't imagine putting one together for that many people!

Delores said...

That is a wonderful legacy to eave your family.

mshatch said...

I think that's what I love about Thanksgiving is everyone getting together - and the food, of course!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What a wonderful time. My children demand things be done a certain way on Thanksgiving because they don't want anything to change at all.

Robin said...

This story made me cry. Ha! I bet you weren't expecting THAT. Well, I wasn't either. It was a shock.

I think I'm experiencing a bit of Thanksgiving envy. I remember going to Thanksgiving at my mom's parents' house and it being a fairly large to-do, with my uncle and his family there. Sometimes others.

However, my mom isn't a big "cook"... meaning she really doesn't enjoy those big dinners. When my grandma stopped doing it, no one made The Big Dinner any longer. We all just went our separate ways and did our own thing.

I realize that I'm not close to any of my cousins. I couldn't tell you want is going on in any of their lives. And they don't know about me or mine. For the last ten years or so, Thanksgiving has been an "uncertain" holiday for me. There were several that I spent all by myself. The last few years we've gone to dinner over at the homes of church friends... a very thoughtful gesture on their part, and a very enjoyable experience. But, nothing like yours.

Be very thankful for what you've begun at your home. It sounds like the younger generation loves it so much it will continue. What more can we ask than that???

In other news, I dedicated something to you on the HERE'S TO YOU TUESDAY post. I know... Tuesday. It's unheard of... and maybe should be outlawed:) Sorry you missed it (until now) and hope you like it!

Bish Denham said...

I do believe you have captured the epitome of what Thanksgiving is all about. It's each family's homecoming. Good job!

Joanne said...

you have the spirit of the whole season, and lots of memories and traditions. Thanksgiving moved to son Kevin's this year and we feared the timing, etc. Happy to say the turkey and all the fixings were done. Everyone brought food and Ray's family truly gets along. Only 14 and 3 kids, but plenty of laughter. Like you, I feel blessed. And now I need to join you for a walk...every day this week!

Robyn Campbell said...

I loved reading your Thanksgiving story, Liza. How wonderful that you have made memories for your extended family. You're the glue, my friend. It's glorious to know that, isn't it? I wish that you have many more Thanksgivings ahead.

Author Joshua Hoyt said...

I agree its the memories that matter most! So we mite as well make good ones :)

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like something everyone looks forward to all year round. It's nice that you give all your family a chance to see each other once a year.

Kittie Howard said...

Liza, as I neared the end of this gorgeous post, the word that popped into my head was 'legacy' and was delighted Alex thought the same. You and your husband will be lovingly remembered as the generations slide off of each other. You are very blessed!!!

Daisy said...

Liza your Thanksgiving sounds wonderful! I know it is a lot of work, but yes I'm quite sure you have made so many wonderful memories for all included.