Friday, November 20, 2009

Memories - Thanksgiving

Well, Thanksgiving is almost here again. What does Thanksgiving make me think of? Food, of course! But more importantly it makes me think of family. As with most families, Thanksgiving for us was about getting together to enjoy good food and good company.

My parents split up when I was 9 and the arrangement we had was Thanksgiving with Dad, Christmas with Mom. I was young enough when this tradition began that it always seemed perfectly natural to me. As a matter of fact, I honestly can’t remember any Thanksgivings before that. I have no idea what we did when my parents were still married.

So we always gathered at Grandma Brandt’s house. She always did all the cooking herself. I don’t think she would have trusted anyone else in her kitchen. Uncle Gary and Aunt Ellen would always come from Des Moines, along with our three cousins Jeff, Greg, and Eric. That was kind of special in itself because Uncle Gary and family only came to visit twice a year.

Those are good memories. The house would smell so good and there would be so many people around. Then after dinner we could go out and show our cousins around the farm. I remember one year we found a lump of some kind of chalky stuff and we used it to write all over an old shed. Then Grandpa Meril Dean saw it and made us clean it off. That was the same Grandpa that got after us for making paths through the corn. What a fuddy-duddy!

Inevitably, there came a year when Grandma said she just couldn’t do all that cooking anymore. I don’t blame her, I know how much work that is, but Thanksgiving just never felt the same after that. Instead of our home-cooked feasts, we started going out for Thanksgiving dinner. And it wasn’t long after that when Uncle Gary stopped coming. His boys were grown and they had gatherings of their own to attend.

We still had our time together with Dad and Grandma and Grandpa though. That tradition held until the mid 90’s. Grandpa died in 1992 and Dad in 1995. And us kids were grown by then too. Brad had a family of his own, and Bobbi had her family out on the east coast. Kevin was who-knows-where by then. That was around the time that I moved away too. It’s a little sad when traditions end and families grow and spread out, but that’s the natural order of things.

After that, our Thanksgivings were catch-as-catch-can. You were never really sure who might show up on any given year. In 2003, Joni and Adam came to live with me and all the sudden I had a family of my own. For the next six years we had quiet gatherings in our little apartment in Dallas. I always missed my family back home, just as Joni missed hers, but I have to admit that I enjoyed the quieter atmosphere and the beginning of a new tradition.

Now here I am back in Nebraska again, and it looks like Thanksgiving this year is going to be something really special. This year marks the first time that my three siblings and I will all be together at the same time since about 1987. I'm only guessing here, but I think Mom is kind of excited about that. I find that I’m a little excited about it too. My daughter, Brenna, will be coming so not only will us four kids be there, but also all of the grandkids; about 10 in all I think. That will be quite a crowd!

That will be on Wednesday since that was the only day we could all get together. On Thanksgiving day, Brad and family go to His mother-in-law’s, and Joni and I have decided to have our traditional quiet gathering here at the house. I find that I am looking forward to both gatherings with equal anticipation.

Traditions are so important in this crazy, ever-changing world we live in. They give us a sense of belonging; something to come home to. I said earlier that it’s sad when traditions end, but maybe they don’t really end. Maybe they just grow and evolve, like our families. The gatherings I am looking forward to this week will involve very different groups of people than the gatherings of my childhood, but it's still family, and it's still Thanksgiving. I will enjoy it while it lasts and look forward to future holidays, whatever shape they may take.

Thanks for reading today. I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition with your own family this year. And if you don’t have a tradition, it’s never too late to start a new one.

Jeremiah 30:19 And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I shall also glorify them and they shall not be small.

1 comment:

  1. family...that's what we are. In every way shape and form. I love you!