Some of my earliest recollections from Thanksgivings past included not just one huge meal, but several. Not only did my mother make a huge spread, but I also had three sets of Grandparents to share Thanksgiving with. Usually, we would have a meal at home that my mother prepared on Thanksgiving day. Then we would travel to each of the grandparent’s homes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Turkey, turkey, and even more turkey!! By the end of it, you came close to growing feathers and saying “Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!”
Although I have memories of attending the Thanksgiving festivities of all three sets of Grandparents, my dad’s parent’s celebration always stood out. For one thing, there were always a lot more people. I had 5 sets of aunts and uncles at that gathering plus a slew of cousins, with second cousins coming along later on.
On holidays long tables were set up end to end down the center of the living room into the master bedroom with chairs lined up on both sides dominating Grandma‘s farmhouse. Grandma sat on one end of the long table, and Grandpa on the other. Behind Grandpa there was always another table set up in the master bedroom and all the cousins fought to get to sit alone in the bedroom in that special place of distinction.
The table was set with Grandma’s best tablecloths, red and clear glass plates, silverware, and water goblets. When it was time, we would all gather around that massive table and joined hands much like the Who’s down in Whoville singing “Count Your Blessings”. Then Grandpa would lead us all in prayer. Grandpa always mumbled when he prayed and he was so far away that usually I couldn’t make out what he was saying. Somehow you would figure out when he was finished by the loud proclamation of “Amen!! and then we would go single file, out the front door, through the garage, into the kitchen where all the wonderful food awaited. Usually it was always colder than a witches tit in the Klondike outside, and by the time you got back into the house, the heat from the kitchen steamed up your glasses so you couldn’t see three inches in front of your face.
Since I was the youngest, I was always finished eating before anyone else and antsy to get up and run around with my cousin. The only problem with that is that with all the tables and chairs, you couldn’t squeeze a mouse fart out once you were seated. We got around that too by having a merry ole time crawling under the network of tables to wherever we wanted to go.
When everyone was finally finished eating, the women retreated into the kitchen to wash dishes and the men set to work taking down the tables. In their place, a few card tables were erected and quite a few rousing games of Euchre and Yahtzee were played. Sometimes Grandpa would dig out his home movies and the whole family would gather in the living room to watch. Other times, everyone would just visit.
It always amazed me that no matter how many grand kids there were, and there were a G0d’s plenty, Grandma and Grandpa would always give us hugs and kisses when we arrived and when it was time to go home. They had so much love for each and every one of us and instilled in me the importance of family, thankfulness of blessings, G0d, and faith.
Sadly those long lost Thanksgivings are only a memory as many of the key players have passed on from this life. Their smiles and laughter will never be forgotten, and I can still hear the family singing “Count Your Blessings” in my mind. I can only hope that I can instill the same sense of family, love, and tradition in my own children. Until next time when I give you another glimpse into the life of a truckers wife.