As we get closer to Thanksgiving, I can’t help but get excited. It is my favorite holiday (well, tied with Christmas) and I looked forward to it every year growing up (and still do). However, it does bring a bit of sadness as well.
Up until my Grandfather passed away, Thanksgiving dinner was always a big tradition for my family. My Grandmother would cook enough food to feed ten armies and family would come in from all over (to be quite honest, there were so many of us, random people from off the street could have walked in there and nobody would have known any better). We would sit down for dinner and in between the clinking of silverware on our plates, we would laugh, talk, and enjoy each other’s company. This would continue well into the night. The kids would all play together and the adults would share stories, inside jokes, and laugh some more over a few or ten glasses of wine and a cheese ball (which I found, and still find, repulsive). Football and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Snoozefest, er..I mean parade, were on TV and, sometimes, my cousin would bring his acoustic guitar and sit on the kitchen floor and play songs while everyone sang. The Santa parade would pass through town in the evening followed by a trip to the hosie to see Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty. Afterwards, we would put up the Christmas tree and assemble the little town below it on a platform built by my Uncle. It was a family tradition like no other. Call me crazy, but at this time of year when I walk into my Grandmother’s house, I swear I can still smell that Thanksgiving dinner cooking.
I miss those days.
As important as that tradition was to me, and as fond as I am of the memories (and believe me, there are LOTS), it’s a tradition that hasn’t been followed for the last ten years or so. The family dynamic has changed over those years and my Grandmother just didn’t have it in her to continue cooking that huge dinner without my Grandfather here with us. And I don’t blame her. He was a huge part of our lives, just like she is.
I guess it’s just the way things go sometimes.
Last year, my wife and I cooked dinner for Mason’s first Thanksgiving (his dinner was a jar of pureed turkey, pureed sweet potatoes, and pureed green beans – he hated it, of course). I wouldn’t have felt right if we hadn’t cooked, which I think is a reflection of how important that family tradition was to me growing up. Afterwards, we put up the Christmas tree – just like we had in years passed. This year we will be cooking dinner again, and I hope to eventually make it into something as big as what I used to have. There was just something about sitting around a huge table, stuffing food down our gullets (not that I don’t do this – and thoroughly enjoy it – every opportunity I get), and spending time together as a family that seemed to bring out the best in everyone. Even if it was just for that one day, it was an opportunity to forget all the petty things in life and focus on what was most important – each other.
Sometimes it’s the smallest things in life that have the greatest impact, and this, for me, was one of those things. I hope that one day Mason will realize the same thing, and be able to look back on family traditions of our own that we will have, and carry those on into his future, share them with his children, and remember them as fondly as I do mine.
I strongly believe that as their Grandchildren, this is what my Grandmother and Grandfather hoped for and wanted for us as well.
And now, years later, fully understanding how important it was to them, it makes it that much more important to me to fulfill their hopes and desires by carrying on their tradition.