You know by now that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I remember so well the love of family, warmth and togetherness of past holidays; I can even smell those tantalizing holiday scents drifting from the kitchen. Ah, delicious memories.
Who can forget our dad’s intense dislike of all things “chicken” (definitely included turkey)? To avoid his irate glare at the offending poultry, Mom would bake pork chops or broil a steak for him. Of course, he would eat all the trimmings. He loved Mom’s stuffing—it had small pieces of turkey in it—haha, gotcha Dad!
We enjoyed going to our grandparents’ for this special holiday. Nonna would start with an incredible antipasto, followed by escarole soup with tiny meatballs. I tried not to fill up on these dishes because I knew what was coming. Nonna brought out a beautifully roasted turkey; we helped bring the side dishes to the table—did I hear the table protest? And of course there were the never-ending loaves of homemade bread and Grandpa’s wine. (Nonna also made ravioli for Dad—he sure was spoiled!)
We had many Thanksgivings at my sister Roe’s in New Jersey. Before anyone took a bite of anything, there was a tradition to uphold: the weigh-in. Each of the guys, and any gal foolish enough to do so, stepped on the scale to record his/her weight before the feast. This custom would later be repeated just before leaving for home that evening. You should have heard the groans and promises to go to the gym the next day!
Roe remembered a holiday that is now part of our family folklore. We had gathered at our parents’ and brought our newest family addition, doggie Kelly. She was so happy greeting everyone, getting forbidden snacks and forever wagging her tail. Disaster struck as she knocked over a glass of red wine with her friendly tail—did I mention Mom’s rug was pale celery green? Oh, God, Mom is going to go ballistic. We got some club soda and towels and we vainly tried to blot the stain. One of the guys got the bright idea of moving the sofa over the discolored carpet. When that was done, we sat back and tried to enjoy the day.
We all returned the next evening for leftovers. Mom had just come into the living room with cheese and crackers:
“Who moved the sofa?” Uh oh, we were snagged.
“How did you know?”
“I saw the sofa impressions on the carpet and knew it had been moved forward.” We always swore she should have been a detective!
The Thanksgiving memory I treasure most took place when we were young kids. In the early evening, when guests had gone home and the leftovers had been put away, Mom would dress us in our warm coats, hats and gloves and pile us into the car; Dad was already outside keeping it warm for us. We’d head over the hill to Mamaroneck Avenue and Dad would slowly drive down the avenue so we could ooh and ahh over the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. You see, in those days, White Plains turned on the lights Thanksgiving evening, not weeks before. Mom would point out special displays and Dad would beam from ear to ear listening to us yammer all at the same time. What a perfect ending to a perfect day! Dad took us on this joyful ride for many years—it was his gift to us, another part of his legacy.
What beautiful times those were. The love, warmth and togetherness of Thanksgiving are welcome and they’re necessary, to my way of thinking. After the turmoil, unrest and hurtful words this past year, I pray we get back to the basics: love of family, understanding our neighbors, peace, faith and hope—we’re worth it and need it, don’t you agree?
Ruthann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.