Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US. There’s lots of history and lots of myths surrounding this holiday. It is certainly based on English celebrations of the fall harvest. When you live in cold parts of the world, you definitely celebrate having a big fall harvest to get you through the winter. And, after a bad first year that had essentially halved the population, those first English settlers had a lot to be thankful for.
A random fact that I learned through working through our family tree is that both my Mom and Dad had ancestors who were part of that first Thanksgiving. Just an interesting little fun fact.
Anyway, fast forward a bit and it becomes a national holiday set at the end of November. Eventually, turkey got tied to it and, if you had a big family, it was probably the only bird big enough to work. Now it is associated with parades and football but often overlooked in the rush to Christmas. The day after is the infamous Black Friday where hordes of people descend into stores fighting each other to get a few bucks off gifts that will soon be forgotten by the recipients.
Many stores now actually open on Thanksgiving night which I just find to be appalling. I’m old school. The obsession with getting a deal just doesn’t make sense to me. But some people like it so to each his own.
We weren’t the family who would do the “go around and say what you are thankful for”. I could say I’m thankful for that. But Thanksgiving was always kind of a special day growing up.
Like every holiday, it changes as you move into adulthood. For a time, we made the trek north to have dinner with the parents. It started to become harder to do the busier we got.
For a time, we changed places and my parents would come down to our house for dinner. I actually enjoyed trying to put together a big spread. It was fun. I remember Mom patrolling the kitchen with her glass of wine and talking about how great it was that she didn’t have to do any work. And then ultimately taking over several parts of the preparation. Told you Mom was kind of control freak about certain things.
They never stayed long because Pop seemed to dislike being away from home. There were years when he’d freak out about potential bad weather and we’d have to move dinner up so he could leave right after. They did this to my sister as well a couple of times they went to her place for Thanksgiving. We always called their visits lightning strikes because it always ended quickly.
But there would still be some good times and some quiet times. Mostly early in the morning since Mom was always up before Dad and I’m naturally an early riser. Helps that we also had dogs who always knew when someone was in the house and they’d make a beeline downstairs once they heard any activity there.
Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is now tied to some sad memories. Two years ago my older brother and his family were in town and so the three boys (with families) had dinner at our house. We bought most of the dinner so the cooking was minimal leaving time to watch football and just enjoy the company.
Mom and Dad were supposed to come down but Dad was being stubborn and didn’t want to come. By then, his vision was such that he couldn’t drive and he really didn’t trust Mom to drive. She had missed a turnoff one year and never heard the end of it even though it just meant a small detour through a town. So they decided to stay at their place and just have frozen dinners. (Trust me, we came up with all kinds of ideas about driving up and getting them but Dad wasn’t going to budge)
We had planned to call them in the evening and had just finished dinner when my sister called with the news that Mom had fallen and broken her hip and was in the hospital. And Dad was in the house by himself not having any idea what was going on. They had taken her from the local hospital to one in a bigger town that was better equipped, but, until she could call him, he really had no way of figuring out what was going on. It was our first clue to how helpless he really was.
So it meant a lot of scrambling and changing of plans to decide who would go up when and so we’d have coverage for Dad until Mom came home. That was the beginning of the end since Mom died in early January of that year from the blood clots that were a complication of the hip break. Thanksgiving is now a mix of happy and sad memories.
Not meaning for this to be a downer but I needed to get some of this out. This year will just be the two of us and a small dinner. It is still a nice holiday but it just isn’t the same.
But that’s the thing about life. It never remains the same.