For all of my American readers, I send out a heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your day is blessed by the love of family, good food, and all the things that make lasting memories. And also wishing all my Jewish readers a Happy and Blessed Hanukkah.
The following is a piece I wrote in 2009 and I thought I would share it again.
There's an old Thanksgiving song that starts out, "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go..."
I was a child, my Dad would break into that song as we crossed the
Pennsylvania border into West Virginia on our annual pilgrimage to
celebrate the Holiday with his family. "The horse knows the way to carry
the sleigh, through the white and drifting snow..."
closer we got to his childhood home, the heavier his foot rested on the
gas pedal as our Chevy station wagon climbed the hills on twisting
roads and flew on the downside. His rich baritone voice belted the song,
and in my imagination we were on that sleigh behind dapple grays in
their rhythmic trot. I could hear the clump of their hooves and feel the
blowing snow bite my cheeks as we were carried along.
It was magic, pure and simple. A magic that continued for the few days that we stayed in that 'otherworld.'
as those memories float pleasantly through my mind, I can almost smell
the wonderful aromas of sage dressing, pumpkin pie, and mulled cider
that permeated my grandmother's house. And I can hear the bustle of
activity accompanied by short bursts of conversation among the women in
the kitchen. The front bedroom is where the men gathered and brought out
instruments. Their music became another soundtrack.
brothers, sisters, and I would join other cousins in the back bedroom
in between our numerous trips outside. Our biggest challenge was to see
who could roll down the hill and retain the most amount of snow, turning
ourselves into living snowpeople. The second biggest challenge was to
see who would have the honor of receiving the drumsticks. They were
dolled out on a 'merit' system based loosely on which of us waited the
most patiently for the great announcement, "Dinner's Ready."
memories like that, it was hard for me to face the formidable task of
creating Thanksgiving Days that would live in glory for my children.
were living in Texas, so mountains and snow were out of the question,
and my singing never could quite match my father's. I didn't possess
even a tenth of the culinary skills of my grandmother and my aunts, so
the meal would probably be lacking. And we were more than a thousand
miles away from cousins to help distract my children from their
But despite those limits, we managed to
muddle through. I did manage a passable dinner and my husband actually
raved about the German dressing. The pies were a major hit, all ten of
them, and everyone was willing to eat the broccoli for the promise of a
second piece of pie. And after cheering the Dallas Cowboys to another
victory, most years, we would all tumble outside for a family game of
In sifting through all these random
memories I realize that the memory itself is not what is important. What
is, is the fact that we have memories and they don't happen by
accident. No matter what we do to 'mark' these important occasions, it
is vital that we do 'mark' them. Even if our process doesn't live up to a
Martha Stewart image or our own fond remembrances of childhood.
So here's to our memories, no matter how we create them.