Here in the U.S. of A., it is Thanksgiving. A day in which we spend time with family and/or friends, enjoy and express gratitude for the blessings life has given us. And like many US families, mine spent it together, even with those we do not have home with us yet. Five of our six offspring and their respective Significant Others were here, along with five grandkids. Our son, Danny, is still in L.A., but called before he went out for the evening. We miss him and cannot wait until he is back with us in December. (Yay Christmas:)!)
I am also exhausted, probably because I am old. And out of shape:). The husband wonders what I'm doing quietly in the corner over here. Our eldest, her hubby and her three kids just left for home. Their Dad dropped them off before and we exchanged a lot of Thanksgiving pleasantries. That was nice. After dinner, we took a family picture of the attendees of our dinner/feast (a process that took awhile, due to a recalcitrant camera battery, but as soon as I get a copy, I will likely upload:)). Our Penultimate Offspring spent the greater part of yesterday and a good deal of today dealing with her stupid mother and baking five (yes FIVE) amazing pies and making delicious veggies for the meal today. A good thing, because though I make the stuffing (dressing for my grandmother and those of you from the Southern US who make the distinction between that which is in the bird and that which is without) without touching any dead critters, there often is not enough for the three or so vegetarians among us to get their vitamins. Thank you, S!
Offspring No. 3 also pitched in with an amazing array of grocery shopping and cleaning the seepage from a recalcitrant dead bird in the 'fridge this morning, thus making it possible for yours truly to get said dead bird into the oven by late morning. Thanks B!OMG how can I forget the beautiful place settings put together by daughter D and granddaughter R with the beautiful picture for the centerpiece crafted by granddaughter M?
And "Pop", who every year since 2008, breaks out his copy of the NY Times article on how to properly carve a turkey, did himself proud. There was food and leftovers for all. And plenty of beer and wine, just in case the former didn't go well.
Thanksgiving is the one holiday for all Americans. It is not a religious holiday like Christmas, or Hanukkah, and it doesn't require any particular food or tradition. The beauty of it is, your own ethnic traditions will do just fine, thank you very much. We are so far from the original Thanksgiving among the Pilgrims and the Native Americans who saved their hides, that anything really goes as far as food.
I asked my son-in-law to prepare the grace before tonight's meal. Good natured soul that he is, he soldiered on and did a fine job of it - and this among a family of philosophies ranging from mainline Christianity to atheist. Well done you!
Whenever we celebrate Thanksgiving, I cannot help but think of all the Thanksgivings past, with loved ones who are no longer with us. When I was little, my parents took my brothers and me to our paternal grandparents' home and when I was very very little, I remember Mammy, my maternal great grandmother, sitting quietly across from me, assiduously chewing her meal with few teeth in her mouth. She was so quiet and so fragile, and yet there she was, in a place of love and honor, as well she should have been! She lived with my grandparents when my Dad was a young teen until she died the year I turned five.
My grandparents are gone. So is my mother. Great Aunts and Uncles have also died. But their memories bring me so much joy. My grandfather was so close with his brother, my Uncle Dave. Their father had died when both were very young, leaving their mother to raise them. The plan was that Grandpa and Uncle Dave, both very bright (Grandfather skipped two grades in school and was encouraged to take the flute by a wonderful teacher who saw him playing with a fife) would go to college and then to medical school. Uncle Dave did just that. When it was Grandpa's turn, the money ran out, so he used his incredible musical talents to play in the big bands of the time. There was a stint with Benny Goodman in New York. There were stories of Tommy Dorsey, and saving enough money during good gigs in the Depression to support himself, his wife and their two children after Grandfather was disabled in a fall from a stage scaffolding.
Uncle Dave, too, did his part. As a young doctor in PA, he never refused care to a union man or his family when there was a strike. There is a family story about him being pulled over many many years later by a police officer for speeding, somewhere outside of PIttsburgh. The officer, when he saw his license, would not issue a citation and instead waved him off. Uncle Dave had helped his family during the Depression.
After my grandfather died, my Dad found letters between him and his brother, Dave, about taking care of their mother's care in her old age. Uncle Dave said he could cover it; he had the means. Grandfather said, no - she's my mother too, dear brother. I will do my share.
I have big shoes to fill. Doubt I ever will, but I am grateful for each of them. I am grateful for my family. As they say in the Whiskeypalian Church: For what was, thanks be to God. For what is, thanks be to God. For what will be, thanks be to God. Just Thanks:)
God be with you 'til we meet again+