Our major holidays are centered around faith. Easter, Hanukkah, and Christmas focus on God. So does Thanksgiving, but it focuses on appreciating what the other holidays represent.
My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are of my sister and me riding in the back seat of my mom’s 1960 model Buick and traveling from one grandparent’s house to the other. I was very fortunate as a child. Virtually all members of both sides of my family lived in the same town.
Ashdown, Arkansas, was and still is a small town. So, it was easy to make your way to multiple stops on a Thanksgiving Day.
Alternating between locations for dinner and supper (in the South, we call it dinner and supper, not lunch and dinner), we would go to my mom’s parents’ house and then my dad’s parents’, or vise versa, and visit and eat.
I can still see the men and boys sitting in the living room watching a snowy, black and white picture of the football game. I can hear my grandfather, dad and uncles yelling at the screen. Tom Landry is pacing the sideline in his trademark suit, tie and Fedora.
The women and girls are laughing in the kitchen and are talking about what recipe each will make when we are all back together at Christmas.
We get the call from our grandmother that the food is ready. We rise, bow our heads, and my grandfather leads us in prayer, thanking God for everything.
The adults gather around the table and the kids fix our plates. We are relegated to a card table in the living room.
Dessert is next. When the kids are invited back to the kitchen, the dishes and glasses have been cleaned up and the table is now full of pies, cakes, brownies, and other sweets. I look until I spot the pecan and chocolate pies. Both of my grandmothers made amazing pecan pie, and my mom always made a wonderful chocolate.
After dessert, the adults have coffee and the children are sent outside to play. One of the great things about having a lot of cousins is that you can field your own sports team. We toss the football and run through the cold fall air. Our noses turn red and our eyes water. We laugh and laugh some more.
At the end of a long day of visiting, we all part ways and head back to our respective homes. With leftovers that our grandmothers have put together for each family, we will enjoy turkey, ham, dressing, and other side dishes for days.
I make sure my mom also brings plenty of pecan and chocolate pie.
Faster and faster, the calendar begins to flip. Each passing year sees more empty chairs at the kitchen table. Suddenly, one year, I’m invited to sit at the table with the adults. My children now are the ones at the card table in the living room, and Tom Landry no longer walks the sideline.
More time passes, and my grandchildren now sit at the card table.
Life is short. Thanksgiving is an annual reminder of that.
It is a time of joy, but it is also a time for reflection.
God gives us all many blessings. Thanksgiving is the marker on the highway of life that reminds us that our lives and ultimate destination are all part of one big blessing. A reminder for which we each need to be thankful. Not just on a holiday, but every day.
©2016 John Moore
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