Restrictions, stay-at-home suggestions, don’t travel! This year continues to alter our reality with the danger of a traditional large family gathering at Thanksgiving becoming a super-spreader!
I have a possible remedy for what we face this year for Thanksgiving! How about a trip down memory lane to happier times? I’ve had so many wonderful ones, it’s hard to identify my favorite.
During my childhood in my country town, family surrounded me on Thanksgiving Day. We enjoyed the traditional fare of turkey and all the trimmings at noon time. Dad and other sports enthusiast watched whatever football game that came on. Usually the Dallas Cowboy played on this holiday. Dad hated them and rooted for Dallas’ opponent, no matter who they were!
The rest of us gathered around the round table in my parents’ home for an afternoon and evening of unending games, laughter and fellowship! At times, three to four generations gathered there for some of my favorite holiday memories. My family has always taken pictures, anytime we were together, so that was a part of the ritual, too!
As a young married, I offered to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner in Denver, Colorado with both of our parents in attendance. My parents came up early and stayed with us. I woke Thanksgiving morning sick as a dog, so Mom stepped in and finished the preparations! I wonder if it was nerves? My mom and mother-in-law were cooking giants!
A few years later, my first husband and I moved to Loveland, Colorado and again we invited both parents for the big holiday. A massive snowstorm hit, starting on Monday of Thanksgiving week, and it came down for days. We had feet of snow, and my parents canceled because of the four-hour drive north. My in-laws and sister-in-law braved the hour and half drive from Denver, and we celebrated the holiday with no game playing but an enjoyable time. It was my first Thanksgiving without my parents, so it was hard for me!
After I divorced and while I was going to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, I spent all of my Thanksgivings with Mom and Dad, at my home. We started a new tradition. Dad and Mom drove to Loveland or Fort Collins, Colorado (I moved to Fort Collins later), and we had our holiday meal at different restaurants in the area. “The Old Farmhouse” became our favorite with seating in the various rooms of an actual old farmhouse. Then the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, we drove to Boulder to attend the Boulder Dinner Theater. My dad was this old cowboy who lit up with live music and performances! We did this for the four years I attended the university.
After graduation, I taught in Denver, Colorado my first year, then I moved to Raton, New Mexico, and another tradition began for my four years there. Dad, Mom and I drove to Alamogordo, New Mexico to share Thanksgiving with my half-sister and her family. We had memorable times of good food, laughter and lots of games.
When I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, I returned home for Thanksgiving yearly, but the gatherings were smaller. We still enjoyed delicious food and fun game time around Mom’s round table with my aunt and my cousin’s family. The weekend after Thanksgiving, we would go out to our ranch and cut down Christmas trees for Mom, my classroom or friends and me. Our fresh cut trees lasted so well throughout the holiday season. We also cut fresh cedar boughs—I love their delicious smell!
Dad’s last Thanksgiving was memorable yet sad. My nephew, Andy, had come to help Mom with Dad’s care after his recent hospitalization. On the Friday after Thanksgiving and a snowstorm, we drove out to our ranch to cut down trees as usual. As we faced a sizable drift to get to the trees, I told a young Andy, “See where you need to get. Punch it and drive like hell!”
His eyes twinkled with my permission to speed and with a giggled, we plowed through the drift easily, cut down our trees and created a memory we reference often!
When Ted and I got together, he had a Thanksgiving tradition I adopted, with a heavy heart at first. He regularly attended a round dance festival in Dallas, Texas that began the Monday of Thanksgiving week with the local round dance cuers cuing each night and workshopping during the day. The official festival began on Friday and lasted through Sunday. On Thanksgiving night, Ted and I would dance with a square dance club we both loved instead of round dancing.
No family, my Mom alone—the first one I felt horrible, but she consoled me and said you have to live your life! I grew to love the festival but hated missing time with Mom.
After Ted and I broke up, it was Mom and me. We shared the holiday with my cousin and her family. On Friday morning after Thanksgiving, Mom and I drove fifty miles to Trinidad, Colorado early in the morning to take advantage of the Black Friday sales. She absolutely loved the crowds and the craziness!
Then Lin and I married, and the three of us started a delightful tradition: Thanksgiving dinner out at the High Noon Restaurant and Saloon in Old Town Albuquerque. We booked our reservation for dinner around Lin’s tradition of watching football games all day. This restaurant provided a complete meal at our table for our size party then sent us home with all the leftovers! Mom loved this special place.
After Mom passed away, Lin and I continued that tradition for a couple years, but then I decided to cook our meal the last couple years. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and football dominated the day.
As, I stood at the counter to prepare the crust for my pumpkin pies, Mom joined me in my heart because I used her remarkable pie crust recipe given to her by our family’s doctor in 1953! Instead of grieving the loss of so many of my family as I moved around the kitchen, I remembered them all and the great times we’ve had.
Last year, my brother joined us for Thanksgiving, and we had a delightful time, our first Thanksgiving together in a long time.
This year, it’s Lin and me with the restrictions in place. So, yes, I’ve wondered about Thanksgiving 2020, but as I’ve remembered my previous celebrations, I am grateful for my family and the memories I will have forever!
So, my suggestion to you is take the time these next couple days before Thanksgiving, to walk back in time and remember those special celebrations and especially the people who made them so. Then share them with me!
~Visit my two blog posts from last week:
- We’ve lived through nine months of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s my poetic view on it: https://laradasbooks.com/2020/11/15/poetic-view-nine-months-later/
- Gratitude during 2020 is difficult. Here’s my suggestion on how to deal with it: https://laradasbooks.com/2020/11/19/grateful-now-why/
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