Thanksgiving has always been a big thing in our family. Growing up, we used to travel to our grandparents’ house on Thursday morning at stay at least until Friday afternoon. Our time would be filled with making the big meal Thursday complete with family favorites like a relish tray, celery and cheese, deviled eggs and grandma’s famous (to us) noodles. We’d eat and talk and laugh. The three of us girls would rotate through out turn of helping with the dishes (no new-fangled dishwasher for grandma!). We’d play cards, watch movies, nap, and eventually after what seemed like forever it would be time for dessert. I loved those days, surrounded by family, in grandma’s overly warm home, full of joy.
The early years included overnights. We’d sleep on the pull out couches or in the mobile home. There’d be popcorn and diet rite or RC cola. The adults would play cards into the wee hours and things just seemed perfect. The next morning I’d wake up to sounds of grandma in the kitchen. I’d peek through the keyhole in the door to the kitchen knowing she didn’t yet want company as she whisked up something for breakfast. Often times there’d be biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon or sometimes even sweet rolls. I’m sure everyone feels similarly but no one could cook like grandma.
Eventually this tradition changed. Grandma got older and hosting Thanksgiving wasn’t as easy for her any more so we began having it at our house. Usually our grandparents would spend the night but after a few years being away from home overnight, and having to walk up and down the steps became too much for them. There have been a few years that our grandparents didn’t come for Thanksgiving. It was heartbreaking in some ways but a reality that as you get older traditions change.
Last year still felt like Thanksgiving even though Mom was already at Greenwood Village. We weren’t sure how long she’d hold on, so Stacey and Josh flew in and were here for about a week. We were able to keep some of our traditions alive even though it wasn’t exactly the same. And we all could sense the shift that would happen in 2017. In some ways, I’d been dreading yesterday ever since Thanksgiving 2016.
Being an extrovert I often need to be around people. Not in the sense of crowds (I avoid the mall this time of year like the plague!) but in the sense of having noise, laughter, and love surrounding me. So thinking about Thanksgiving as just Shelly, Dad and I was a little disheartening. I love them dearly but there is always an ache in my soul for the togetherness I felt in a group of 7 when were were growing up. So I was excited when friends of ours invited us to share Thanksgiving with their family. Dad was hesitant, partially because they are closer to Shelly and me, but I think also because any way we celebrated this year would have felt off merely because it was different and Mom wasn’t there.
So we trekked over yesterday afternoon with our food contributions in tow. We shared in a beautiful reading of a poem/prayer one of them had written that spoke directly to my soul. And then we ate. Some things were traditional, some things were probably traditional for this family, and some things were our traditions. All those foods together. The three of us sat in the dining room, not purposefully away from everyone else, but separated. Slowly a few others joined us as they finished filling their plates and it felt comfortable–though there were a few moments I thought we may have been the only three in the dining room. And as people finished their food, others made their way in to talk, and laugh, (and beg for dessert). Dishes washing and clean up commenced and people rotated in and out to help get everything accomplished.
We took two cars with us. I think Dad figured he may have left earlier than Shelly and I. But we played games all afternoon and evening and none of us left until about 9:30. And it was good. We didn’t feel like we had to stay, we wanted to. It felt good, and comfortable, and different but…perfect at the same time. New traditions can be hard. They come with heartache as we remember those who aren’t with us. And they make us change. But I think new traditions can be good. They help us remember there are friends and family surrounding us who care an awful lot. We aren’t alone. And for that, I am thankful. But really–I am so much more–thankful just doesn’t seem to cover all of the joy I have in my heart and the smile I had on my face waking up this morning.
I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving filled with love, surrounded by people dear to your heart, and full of good food.
Love and Light (and Pie!)