Sure, birthdays and Christmas brought all the gifts, but there was something about Turkey Day that just hit all the right notes.
Family, food. My mother’s stuffing. The scent of the turkey filling the house — I can smell it to this day.
A rite of passage was getting a drumstick. Cranberry sauce came from a can, and that can-shaped mold was sliced on a plate. None of that fancy berry stuff.
In the Delaware Valley, we celebrated with the famous Thanksgiving Day parade. The payoff was the last float — Santa on his sleigh. It was even bigger than the Mummers on New Year’s Day. Heck, we didn’t even know there was a Macy’s Day parade.
After dinner, my Dad, Grandpop and I passed out in front of the TV “watching” the Detroit Lions lose another Thanksgiving Day game. John Madden used his telestrator to map out how to carve the turducken on the Madden Bus.
And at the end of the day, with time off from school, I’d head down to my grandparent’s house in Philadelphia for a couple of days to trim the tree and enjoy a little “city” holiday season.
Not to mention leftovers! Mmmmmmm... turkey sandwiches...
After dinner — and I am strict about this — you can officially start playing Christmas music.
We weren’t a large family — at most there was a half a dozen of us around the table, but it was enough.
As always, opposites attract. My significant comes from a large family. A holiday dinner in her neck of the woods can easily see 30 people around multiple tables. For the uninitiated, it can be a bit overwhelming.
She’d be a charter member of the Macy’s Day Parade fan club if such a thing existed. And, I have no doubt she started playing Christmas music in secret about a month ago. And, she likes yams...
Lately, Thanksgiving leaves us both feeling a little bit like fish out of water. Now that it is just Dad and I, we tend to celebrate separately. And with her kids scattered across the country, it is often just my significant and I trying to find new traditions. We have high hopes one of these years all three of her kids will be at the house, but for the moment, it is often just the two of us.
Were it just me, I’d be content sitting at home watching the Mystery Science Theater Turkey Day marathon, but that’s not her thing. We’ve done hikes, visited Civil War battlefields, gone to the movies, and hunted for pre-black Friday bargains. But in her book, nothing would match having everyone around the table. And why should it?
Because, in the end, Thanksgiving is about family. No matter what the size. No matter how much we irritate each other. For one day, the stress we face in life becomes a tomorrow problem.
I’m thankful. Thankful for all my memories. Thankful for all the gifts in my life, despite the challenges, and thankful for all that is yet to come.
Every year, when I got back from my grandparents’ house, Thanksgiving was over, and I was back at school, I would come home one evening to find the wishbone had dried out enough to make a wish.
Mom and I were fierce competitors, we probably split the lifetime series. They say if you tell the wish, it will never come true. Ah, well... what the heck? My wish was and is always the same: May all our dreams come true.