Dean and I just had our 6th Thanksgiving together, and it was our 5th Thanksgiving in a row with the kids. For all but one of those, we've cooked our own dinner at home. We've got our Thanksgiving routine down, and by default, created our own tradition.
Dean always makes the turkey.
Elle always sets the table.
Bradley is always our "whatever you need" guy.
I always make the mashed potatoes.
Domi is the "will you go get this" runner.
Mariah avoids the kitchen at all costs.
This is the one time that we break out the "good dishes" and bust out the campaign glasses (Sparkling cider). We have a nice table cloth and cloth napkins. Elle sets out candles. We dust off the "real" silver silverware. It's a nice presentation, and it has become our tradition.
Today (as with every year) we went around the table and mentioned what we were thankful for. Each year the list includes family and friends. As we devoured our meal, I asked each person about their favorite Thanksgiving memory. Every single person mentioned a memory with extended family. The kids all mentioned their grandparents in Washington and the fond memories they have of Thanksgiving meal preparations. Dean mentioned Thanksgivings in Kansas when he was a kid. My favorite Thanksgiving memory also occurred during my young childhood.
It was Thanksgiving 1975. My mom, my dad, my sister and I lived in Millington, Tennessee. My parents came and got me out of Kindergarten early that day so that we could make the trip to Illinois for Thanksgiving. My teacher sent me home with all of the handmade Thanksgiving decorations I had made. I remember nothing about the actual drive; I'm assuming I was asleep. I just know that I couldn't WAIT to get to Aunt Donna's house!!!
My dad's whole family was there (minus the Wisconsin contingency). Uncle Bill, Aunt Susie, Dad, Aunt Donna, Aunt Janine, Uncle Danny, Aunt Judy...and all of the cousins. (Only Clint and Larry were missing.) My Grandma and Grandpa Danley were also both there. My parents had an old reel to reel video camera, and I actually have a few precious minutes of footage from that day.
Why is this one of my favorite memories? I remember feeling loved by all of my extended family. I remember being caught up in the chaos of dinner preparations, football, hanging with the cousins. I also distinctly remember sitting on my Grandpa's lap that day after dinner. He told me about the day I was born. I was born in Anaheim, California on March 21, 1970. My grandpa was ill in Illinois on that day. I was born on his birthday, and because of that, he told me I was special to him! It made my day.
I didn't have very many meaningful interactions with Grandpa Danley. He died when I was just 11 years old. That brief interaction is one of the few memories I have of him. I'm OK with that. I believe that families are forever, and I believe that I will have many opportunities to sit down together and discuss whatever we want.
Here is an old picture that I have from that day. Unfortunately, it has become a bit water damaged over the 35 years that I've had it. When I see this picture, I look right past the yellow speckles. Grandpa is at the head of the "kids table." It means a lot that he chose to sit with his grandkids!Yes, that is me and my sister in matching Hee-Haw overalls! I'm not ashamed to admit that we used to watch Hee-Haw, and I actually liked it!!!
In this picture (looking at the camera) Billy and Scott. Grandpa at the head of the table. Backs to the camera: Kevin, Julie and me (with the long blonde hair).
I'm grateful for many things in my life, but above all, I'm most thankful for my family. Near or far, old or new in this world or into the next....I'm grateful for them all!
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