I know I’ve written in the past of my affinity for various holidays, and have even called Halloween one of my favorite times of year, while in other columns have mentioned that Christmas has been my favorite holiday. There are things about each of those days, those times of year, that I really enjoy.
Truthfully, though, if there was one day of the year I had to choose as my favorite, I think it’s Thanksgiving.
As a child I loved hearing the old stories about the Pilgrim’s and Indians, and dressing up as a Pilgrim or Indian was always a highlight during my elementary school days. One of my favorite school games was having the teacher write the words “Happy Thanksgiving” on the blackboard, and then giving us a set amount of time to see how many words we could write using only the letters in that phrase.
As I grew older it became a day of football — both watching and playing — until most of us grew too old to try without risking serious (or worse, embarrassing) injury to ourselves.
Of course, there’s always the food. When my crew gets together there’s enough to feed an army, and that’s a good thing because there’s usually a small army worth of people. The tradition was that we all descended on my parent’s home, arriving late morning or early afternoon, then taking part in probably the largest meal most of us see throughout the year. We’d spend the rest of the afternoon and into the early evening watching football (or in some rooms, various other shows), joking around with one another, returning to the leftovers for an early evening dinner, before everyone heads off in various directions.
Over the years life changes. We grow older. Three summers ago my parents sold the home I grew up in and moved in with one of my sisters, in an apartment she has built onto the side of her house. Now, we invade her home on Thanksgiving.
Another change is the size of this small army. Four generations of my family are in attendance now — my parents, me and my sisters, our spouses, our kids, and the next generation, the kids of my nieces and nephews. Occasionally over the years there’s also been an aunt, an in-law, or some other relative on hand.
Other holidays are nice. Most of us manage to gather on Christmas, occasionally we all get together on Independence Day (though not nearly as often as we once did), and every once in a great while most of the clan gets together for birthdays (we celebrated my mom’s 80th just a few weeks ago).
But Thanksgiving is always the one time everyone is together, no matter what. The only exception to that in my lifetime, I think, was when one of my brothers-in-law was away in the Air Force, and my sister was with him.
Despite the changes time has brought — aging, marriages, grandkids (for my sisters, I might add, since I’m not really old enough for grandkids), and great-grandkids — the one constant, the reason we are always together on Thanksgiving is simply family.
With or without the food, young or old, there is no substitute for the feeling of being connected, grounded, of being at home — even in someone else’s house — that comes with this annual get-together.
More changes are on the horizon. My oldest daughter, as of two weeks ago, is formally engaged, with a wedding date tentatively set for September. Both she and my next daughter have been attending community college while continuing to live at home, but there is a good chance both will be out on their own by this time next year.
Still, Thanksgiving will be the one time we can count on everyone to be together. And that, to me, is most definitely a worthy reason to be thankful.