That's what it really should be called, and as I ponder the events of the past few days I realize that it is not just a turkey dinner for me.
Some of my "turkey meal" memories predate the twenty-fifth of November, like the many meals that were served at our church hall, and the cheerfulness of the fall gathering of friends, and neighbor.
Our town usually has a bonfire, which was not allowed due to the weather this year, where the teens gather in celebration of pregame activities of the traditional football rivalry. Others come back to town to see friends who have graduated, joining them for a drink or two. It is a time for class reunions and catching up. My son and his wife were among them. They had a great time, unable to get out much lately, but we had a better time than they did, spending it with our grandsons.
Families gather for the holiday, sometimes celebrating both Christmas and Thanksgiving at the same time, as they will not be able to be together on the "real" calendar date, as traditionally enjoyed many years previous.
It is a time of reflection, of years and events which have gone by and all our loved ones, who we miss and think about. Yesterday, my husband and I shared our turkey dinner with my brother, his wife and our nephew. My eldest brother surprised me when he brought over a home-made chocolate cake with white frosting, as he is recovering from pneumonia. There is never talk in our house about shopping on "Black Friday." Some people wait an entire year to buy something at a "good price" that they ordinarily could not afford. This is not a high income area for most, who live paycheck to paycheck or who run short when there are five weeks in a month.
As I recall, we were thankful just to get something at all. Everyone had at least one gift to open, and of course, we all got unmentionable items just to keep us humble.
Poverty is a word that means different things to different people. Some feel very rich if they and their family have good health. There is no poverty when you are loved. Things do not bring you happiness, only love does. Yesterday, I did not cook a turkey, but I did make a Thanksgiving meal for my elderly mother-in-law, complete with ramekin sized meat and apple pies. Her meat was ground-up and we have for her squash, turnip, potato and broccoli. I made gluten-free stuffing for my husband and set aside a pie, for a later date.
Today, I will do it all over again, making a complete turkey dinner with all the trimmings for our immediate family, which we will share on Sunday. Many people fight about who's house they will go to, some alternate, in keeping a sense of fairness. We are just thankful to get together when everyone can make it, due to the livelihood of our family members. Our newest grandson, Ryan, will not be able to eat turkey, but he is the cutest butter ball of the bunch. Everyone has a favorite, Nathan loves chocolate cream pie, which is traditional. Coconut cream, apple pie, pumpkin, and pecan, will be served for dessert. We try to give everyone what they like, at our house.
The best part of it all is wrapping up left overs to go, as I simply do not want to have "temptations" around, especially the sweet kind, which I usually just sample.
This year "our boys" did us proudly, winning the football game which means we didn't have to eat crow. My dad would have been happy, as he once played as a second string quarterback for the local team. His "gift" was basketball, playing for a semi-professional team in New York City, while he was in the Coast Guard, during the war.
I can still picture my mother wearing a dress, and looking pretty special for my dad, as Thanksgiving was always so "special" with the many faces around our table. I came from a large family, where it was evident that my parents were so much in love, and their happiness will always be one of my fondest memories of them.
On Friday, when we were at my grandson's home, we were looking at a show which featured the Vietnam war and helicopter's--his favorite--eating popcorn. It brought back a flood of memories of another time of Thanksgiving at my in-laws where the discussion was always about her mother's Canadian French stuffing using cinnamon, which differed from my mom's traditional Canadian French sage, Bell's stuffing, but were equally as good.
We are left with memories, memories made by people in our life, here and gone, who love us. It wasn't the Macy's parade, or even the turkey, anticipation of the Christmas season, although it was a part of all of it. It was simply being the lovers of humanity that we are all called to be, even down to the littlest child and baby who has nothing to give but his love.
Would it still be thanksgiving without a turkey or all the Christmas do dads? You bet it would as long as you are blessed with love, you have everything! Savor it...
Almost A Minyan
2 months ago