When I was young, Thanksgiving was my least favorite holiday. There usually weren't any cousins my age to play with and the older ones didn't like me tagging along; I didn't care for most of the food (I didn't even like pie!); and after eating, everyone just sat around watching football, so I couldn't even watch television.
Now I think back to those gatherings and wish I could have just another few minutes with all of those beloved people who have now passed on... my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother, and of course, my mom and dad... and let them know how grateful I am for those memories of love and laughter.
As I grew older, my fondness for the holiday also grew. I learned to love pie and cornbread dressing, for one thing. But it was more than that. I learned to appreciate the time spent with my parents and siblings, to slow down, share stories. Eventually it was my own children sitting at the "kids" table with their cousins.
Even after we moved to Austin, we usually traveled to my parents' home for Thanksgiving. I can still picture Mama in the kitchen checking the turkey, Daddy in his recliner in the back room watching football, and the rest of us either sitting near Daddy or drinking coffee at the kitchen table, offering our help to Mama, which she never accepted.
But of course, with time comes change. With Daddy's passing, routine went by the wayside. Each year I've enjoyed my Thanksgiving dinner in a different place. It's not like it used to be, but that doesn't mean it's bad. My son hosted it one year for his wife's large extended family and included us. Last year Tom and I traveled alone to Florida to spend it with his mom and some of his brothers.
This year he went again, but I couldn't afford the time away. Instead, TG and I joined my son and his wife at her uncle's house. Her grandmother was there - the matriarch - along with aunts and uncles and kids of all ages. I believe there were 28 of us altogether, eating, laughing, sharing stories ... a definite flashback to those first Thanksgivings.
I've realized that no matter where I am on Thanksgiving, all of those I love are with me, because I am so grateful for each of them. Time passes and things change, but some things create such a deep impression on your heart that they are eternal.
I hope no matter where you were today, or who you were with, you felt the presence of all of those you hold dear... all of those who love or have loved you ... gathered around, giving thanks for you as you gave thanks for them.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
"I thank my God every time I remember you."