Thursday, November 22, 2007
A great-full day
Well, since the last post was such a controversial topic, I think I’ll go with something a little less touchy this time—maybe politics? Ha ha ha. Kidding. I told you this wasn’t that kind of site.
I’ll go with something safe: Thanksgiving memories. They’ve changed dramatically over the years. When I was a kid, we often went to my paternal grandma’s for the meal. Ma-Ma made her famous stuffing balls, I think we usually brought green bean casserole and corn pudding, the ladies fussed over the turkey as it roasted for hours, and I enjoyed what at that time was the highlight of my holiday: exposure to MTV. My grandmother had it, since she resided in a huge apartment in town, while we lived in the country and had far fewer channels. We tweens and teens would gather in the living room, eyes glued to the screen to catch the latest videos (yes, there actually used to be videos on MTV) and then we’d go stuff ourselves, help clean up, and retire to the living room for more viewing, this time in a semi-comatose state.
When I moved out to go to college, Thanksgiving became a time of sleep, eating real food, and doing laundry. The main meal still happened at my grandma’s, occasionally at my great aunt’s, and my sister brought the first great grandchild into the mix—my nephew Tim. Although, I can’t recall him being there every time, because they lived in Washington, D.C. and the trip (especially with a small child) was probably no picnic.
Years passed, more of my nieces and another nephew followed, and Thanksgiving morphed into a hair-raising trip from the great white north, where I was teaching school. Most years I waited until the big morning to drive home, partly because the traffic was light, and partly because then I could get together with friends the night before the big trip. I can remember a few sunrise journeys where I gripped the steering wheel, stealing frightened glances at my predecessors who’d gone a bit too fast and had slid into no-man’s land in the middle of opposing highway lanes. There the abandoned cars sat, station wagons, little foreign death traps, even some SUVs and trucks, all stranded and helpless on that strip of frosted green. One year was especially bad, and I recall counting 13 cars in a relatively short stretch of what must have been black ice the night before. I don’t miss those drives. Thanksgiving was especially sobering because you knew, with growing certainty at each passing mile, that it was just a warm-up for the real hell to follow: the Christmas commute.
Then I moved back to southwestern PA, and a short time later met Todd. Thanksgivings became a very busy time, gathering with multiple family branches in a 2- or 3-day span. I remember the first time I attended his YiaYia’s Thanksgiving meal, because it was the first time I’d tasted spanakopita and grape leaves. I believe I dropped a grape leaf on the floor, the kind of thing you are wont to do in a gathering of strangers whom you want very much to impress. Alas, they did not kick me out of the meal and here I am, years later, now a member of the family. We ate at Todd’s mom’s and at my parents’ home; nowadays, my sister and her husband usually host the meal for my side of the family.
One year was extra-special because Todd had proposed just a few weeks before. Another year stands out because we’d just purchased and moved into our first house. And a few short years ago, I remember being pregnant with my sweet little guy on Thanksgiving. It’s a good thing I really pigged out when I could; little did I know I’d be counting carbs and pricking my fingers for glucose tests in years to come…
And this year? I’m sitting in my own home, inhaling the delectable scent of turkey that roasts upstairs in my very own oven. We’ve watched some of the big Thanksgiving Day Parade, have built amazing things with Duplos, have basted, have played with cars, have basted again, etc. It’s been nice to just chill—especially since my son puked on me three times in one day earlier this week. Yep, stomach flu. It’s clearing up now, and he actually ate something other than saltines and kept it down today—hurray! So, it’s a real blessing that we opted to dine in this year. (Can anything affect your appetite more adversely than being on the receiving end of partially digested food offerings? I think not.)
Hope the turkey turns out great for every household reading this. I truly pray that we can all feel genuinely appreciative of the many blessings we enjoy every day. Life’s too short to live ungratefully.
And perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in a few days, we’ll break out the Christmas music here in our home. Perhaps.