Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgivings Past

Today, I thought I'd write about how I've spent Thanksgiving in the past.

As a little kid, when I lived in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, we always shared Thanksgiving dinner with my aunt's family, who lived about ten miles from us. One year, we'd gather at our house, the following at my aunt's house. We shared Christmas dinner with them, too, and we'd have Christmas at the house of whoever did not host Thanksgiving that year. When Thanksgiving was at our house, my mother would set up the children's table down in the cellar, while the adults at upstairs.

I have a memory of being about seven years old and going down the stairs to the basement to eat my Thanksgiving meal. On the way down, I jumped over a football I'd left on the stairs and sang, "Over the football and down the stairs, to Thanksgiving meal I go" to the tune of "Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go". I don't know why I have this snippet of memory still with me, but I remember doing that quite clearly all these years later.

A few years later, after we'd moved to New Jersey, about 300 miles from where I'd lived before, I remember my aunt's family driving all that way to share the holiday meal with us. There was one year where we all went for a walk to try to burn off some of the many calories we'd just ingested. My mother had left what was left of the turkey on the table as we walked, intending to clean up after we'd returned. When we got back, the dog had the turkey on the floor and was going to town on the meat that remained. All these years later, I can't remember why we'd not taken the dog on the walk with us.

After my mother died, and it was just my father and I living in the house, my Dad and I would drive the 300 miles back in the other direction to spend Thanksgiving with the relatives, who were my mother's kin, not my Dad's. It was too far (about 600 miles) to go spend it with his relatives and, at that time, he'd spent more of his adult life among my mother's relatives rather than his own, so he felt more comfortable with her people, anyway.

Some years after this, when I was in college in the late 70s, and my father's job had transferred him out of state, I spent a few Thanksgivings eating with my now-married brother and his family, who lived about 30 miles from where I went to college.

After I got a divorce and moved in with my father for a few years, we didn't have any family at all near us. My father invited all the single people at his office who didn't have family to spend Thanksgivings with us as long as we lived there.

Once we all moved to where I am now, my son and I spent quiet Thanksgivings with my father and stepmother until he died.

Since that time, twelve years ago, we've either eaten Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant or with friends. I remember one Thanksgiving in Georgia, around 2000 or so, where we'd all gone to Ryan's, then another person and I got diarrhea so bad that I had to spend the night at their home. Between the two of us, we gave their poor toilet quite a workout. The two of us had been the only two to eat cheesecake, so I'm guessing that was the culprit for our case of dysentery.

What are some of your Thanksgiving memories?


Melissa said...

My fondest memories are of waking up on Thanksgiving morning smelling the turkey and pies baking, while turning on the TV to watch the Macy's Parade. I always enjoyed Thanksgiving at home.

Kathy Frederick said...

I don't have any memories that were as funny or touching as yours. Just a general excitement about good food and family all around. Oh, and pie for dessert.