I love holidays and the opportunities they bring for creating meaningful traditions and memories with family. Thanksgiving for me will always bring back memories of my grandparents’ little farm in West Bridgewater, where grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins gathered for a big, traditional New England Thanksgiving dinner on the fourth Thursday in November. The menu barely changed year to year. Turkey & giblet gravy, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, mashed turnip, boiled pearl onions, carrot & celery sticks, cranberry sauce, homemade rolls, and lots of PIE. Apple, pumpkin, blueberry, & mince. The Norman Rockwell painting of the Thanksgiving table, titled “Freedom From Want”, makes me think of my grandparents’ house and the warm feelings of family and fellowship I felt there.
After I graduated college and got married, husband’s job took us far away from New England. Grandpa passed on and Grammy sold the old home and went to live with my aunt and her family. We started a family and our own Thanksgiving traditions. I kept the menu from my childhood with a few changes to reflect the tastes of my family and the locale where we eventually settled. The squash,turnip and onion have been replaced by green bean casserole, macaroni & cheese, and cornbread sausage stuffing (in addition to husband’s favorite bread stuffing) . Mince pie has been replaced with Chocolate Silk Pie. An appetizer of a bread cornucopia filled with crudites aside a bowl of spinach dip is another more recent family tradition. Food is an important feature in all our holidays, if you can’t tell.
When my children were young, they used to enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television in the morning while food was being prepped. If the weather was good, there might be a tag football game in the backyard or nearby park. At dinnertime, we still go around the table and everyone shares things they are thankful for. After dinner we play games, a few sneak off to watch football (bah!) , we take some family pictures, and enjoy each other’s company and snack on leftovers!
Times like this are important grounding points in the foundation of a family. Work, politics, stress, and differences are put aside for a time of celebration of what is good and beautiful in all our lives. We hug. We laugh. We eat. We play.
We thank God, our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, for all that he has done, all that he is doing, and all that he will do.