What I’ve Learned about Thanksgiving

My Idahoan sister is getting the troupes together for Thanksgiving this year, here in California. I picked her up at the airport today. Three of my cousins and spouses with some of their grown children, my brother and his grown kids and their significant others, my folks, and my sister and her grown kids and son-in-law, and my other sister’s son, my nephew from Oregon and his family are all coming. It will be over thirty in number. I’m bringing the homemade pumpkin pie, homemade applesauce, a slow-baked ham, and who knows what else. Maybe a pecan pie. We’ll have lots of good food.

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Thanksgiving dinner at my house last year. We’re ready to pray.

The festivities are going to be at my folk’s house. It’s on a knoll out in the country, west of the Sacramento River. Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta are visible on a clear day. It is scenic and wonderful. We will eat around 2:00 but everyone will come an hour earlier to help out. I’ll bring Mother from the care home where she is living now. Tables will be connected and tablecloths and china will be set out. After the leisurely meal is  done, we will clear the plates and do the dishes. Dessert will wait for later.

Next comes singing. We will sing hymns and Christian music. My sister who usually plays the piano won’t be here this time, so I’m guessing my nephew or other sister will be on the piano. My sister-in-law will lead with her guitar, or maybe my brother-in-law. Most can sing and we do four-part harmonizing. I sing alto, Mom sings soprano, Dad sings bass, Paul is a baritone, and Juanita is soprano. Everyone else fits in somewhere. My brother-in-law has a nice tenor voice. It’s really quite lovely. My father particularly likes it when we sing as a family. This is what we do at Christmas, but no-one’s coming this year for the celebration.

After the singing, then comes pie. We usually have apple, pumpkin, berry, and lemon meringue…all homemade. We eat pie for like three days after. When desserts are done then it’s time for games like cards, Chinese checkers, dominoes or five straight. We’ll eat snacks and talk, laugh and tease. It is a good thing. Every year we wonder if we are at the end of this, because it can’t last forever. We know that each time we are together it is to be cherished. Last Christmas both our folks were recovering in rehab hospitals, and that is where we had Christmas together, singing in the rehab dining room.

I’ve learned that Thanksgiving is best when shared with people you love. It has a way of warming the heart.

When I was a teen I liked to toss the football with some of my siblings and cousins in my grandparents’ backyard. I had tomboy in me and could throw a decent spiral. When the meal was ready, a few words of thanks would be said. Sometimes we’d all contribute. Grandpa would say grace, and then we’d all dig in. I’d be at the kids table. My cousin could always get his sister to laugh just by looking at her. Later, she and I would play caroms or Rack-O. The family would have a delicious meal together and then kick back the rest of the day. It was what we did and was quite lovely. My cousins’ family drove ten hours to be there, arriving early Thanksgiving morning at my grandparents’ place. They were like best of friends to us. Family is tradition with us.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I mean that. It is important to remember the good things in life. God has taken us through another year. We are blessed by that even if its challenges were many. We have people who love us. There’s good food to eat. Music fills our souls with melody. Animal friends share their warmth with us. Babies and tots freely give their kisses and loves. Books offer us respite from the daily stuff. Caring friends are there to cheer us along. We see victories day after day, some small and some great.

I’ve learned it is important to celebrate the small successes and enjoy the sweet graces.

Remember to be thankful. Give thanks to God.

Blessings to you and yours,

Norma