The scene on Thanksgiving was always the same.
The smell of bacon would already be in the air when we would wake up on Thanksgiving morning. The crackling sound of the bacon mixed perfectly with the whisking of the eggs in the kitchen. Mom was busily cooking up Thanksgiving breakfast for all of us, while Dad sat on the couch, sipping his coffee and reading the paper, enjoying a well deserved break from the daily grind.
After eating, my brothers and I would head into the TV room. There was one thing on our minds, and it was not the homework that our teachers would always assign over Thanksgiving. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was on TV, and for the next few hours, the three of us sat in much anticipation, waiting for a certain man in a red suit to grace the screen. The holiday season officially began for us once we saw his face, and the Thanksgiving festivities could officially begin.
While my dad and I headed off to Church, my mom would begin preparing for the arrival of the relatives. Starting the oven for the turkey, getting the potatoes ready by boiling them, laying out the table setting. All of this while getting my brothers ready for the day. I look back now and wonder how she did it.
The television would be turned back on once we got home from Church. And for the rest of the day, the tradition of football and turkey overwhelmed the house. No matter what was going on, there was always something happening during one of the games. Shifts were usually taken to help cook, so that everyone could enjoy a little bit of the game while working on the feast we would all enjoy. It was like a well oiled machine.
One by one, everyone would start to arrive. Grandma L. was usually the first to arrive, carrying in her jello salad that she would make specifically for me. Next would be my Aunt and Uncle, who never went anywhere without his green Thermos. Finally, Grandma D. would walk in, with her characteristic smell that only Grandmothers have. As they arrived, I would see my mom and dad standing there, smiling, not saying a word. Simply taking in the atmosphere they helped create.
As everyone took their places around the table, ready to dig into the delicious feast that had been created, we paused to give thanks. We thanked everyone for coming to our house so we could all be together for another holiday. We gave thanks for allowing us all to be together. And most importantly, we gave thanks that we had the time to spend together.
Time. A precious commodity that is so often taken for granted.
A lot of time has passed since those Thanksgivings we would celebrate at my parents’ house. Too many of the familiar faces have long since passed. The days of a full dining room have been replaced with open seats, but never open hearts. The memories of holidays past with loved ones now gone make me remember the time I was fortunate enough to have with them, and for that, I am thankful.
This Thanksgiving, when I am helping create new memories for new members of my family, I will no doubt think back to my past. Perhaps it will be watching football with my nephew, trying to explain what formation the offense is in. Or perhaps it will be the conversation at the table, which usually hums of the conversations that would take place at the table when I was younger. More than likely though, it will be standing there, holding my wife’s hand, looking out at the little part of joy that we have hopefully helped create in everyone else’s lives.
The memories we help create with the people we love will last a lifetime, and for that, I am thankful.
Filed Under: John Rehor