Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions and Changes

Memory Pictures
  • The smell of homemade bread
  • My sister with an olive on each finger, ready to eat
  • My aunts bringing their specialty dish to share: home made pies, green bean casserole, candied yams, giant green salads
  • Playing statue-maker in the backyard
  • Smelling the rows and rows of roses my grandparents carefully tended
  • Pushing my feet on the floor of the double wooden swing my grandfather made while sharing secrets with cousins
  • New children, new friends, new relatives introduced to the family each year
  • An abundance of food--enough so that every family had leftovers to share and take home
  • Sharing personal and family challenges and triumphs. Sometimes with more than 50 people attended a family gathering there was a lot to share.
  • Blessing the food and giving prayers of thanks.

In my family, Thanksgiving has always been the day that all the relatives would find their way to one house to celebrate.  Growing up I was fortunate to live near many aunts, uncles, and cousins. When my maternal grandparents were alive we would most often end up at their house. Later, around high school, families began to scatter around southern California. Then we would take turns hosting Thanksgiving. My grandmother and one of my aunts also took in foster children during my childhood. This led to an expanding view of family for all of us. It also encouraged us to reach out to our circle of friends and acquaintances and invite them into our family.

As an adult, my siblings have been scattered all over the United States and sometimes in other countries. It is rare for all of us to be together at Thanksgiving anymore. However, wherever we are we try to get together with whoever is near and their extended family. As I'm the oldest of nine children, and my mother is the oldest of five, it seems there are always at least three or four families to gather. The few times when I have been unable to make it home to see my parents or to be with relatives, I've always been fortunate to be part of a group of friends who made me feel like family as we celebrated together.

This year the usual larger gathering of several relatives at one home won't be happening anywhere in my extended family. My parents, aunts and uncles are all getting much older. Health issues have plagued them and their ability to get around is severely hampered. So, each one is having a smaller gathering with more immediate family in the area. My husband and I will be with  my parents and my baby sister and her boyfriend. I am thankful my parents are still alive, and blessed that I live close enough to visit regularly. I know that many people do not have anyone near them.

I hope that wherever my readers and friends find themselves this Thanksgiving, that you will make for yourself a family for that one day and take time to count your blessings. Whether that is with a stranger at a soup kitchen or with a large group of relatives, there is so much in our lives to be thankful for. I want to leave you with a Thanksgiving Video a good friend shared with me. It shows in pictures and words many things for which we can give thanks no matter where we live.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. If you feel so inclined, I'd love to hear of your own traditions and what you are doing to celebrate your blessings at this special time of year.


pollidog said...

My husband, the only who LOVES to cook in the family, likes to mix things up. While he can do a bird, he's made Thanskgiving lasagna just as many times. His sister tends towards take out pizza for holiday occasions, but recently (since retiring) she has been experimenting. Last Thursday she cooked a ham for the first time and it was delicious.

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Pollidog, Thanks for commenting. My husband loves to cook as well. He is the one who does the sweet potato mash with onions, garlic, and bacon. It was yummy. My sister ended up cooking Salmon and duck, and my parents bought a fully cooked ham. So, there was plenty of meet and fish.

It is amazing how retirement can bring out new interests. I hope your sister continues to enjoy cooking.