"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Traditions; Additions; and Interruptions

Mom and Dad were the first to arrive.  I knew they would be.  I always tell them to come a little earlier than the rest of the family, and that way we have a chance to visit before everyone else arrives.  We were expecting 25 people and I knew once every one else came, any visiting for me would be minimal at best.

Mom also likes to arrive early to help peel potatoes or do anything else she can to help.  One thing I know about my mom, she simply isn’t comfortable at someone else’s house unless she is working.  Anyway, if they arrive early, Mom gets right to work and Dad gets settled to watch a little football if he can, before the house gets so crowded it is impossible.

I love our Thanksgiving holiday.  Of course it is one of my favorites, along with Christmas and Resurrection Day. Oh, and Fourth of July; and even Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day!  I just love holidays, and everything they symbolize. I love the celebration that each holiday brings; and I am a strong believer in tradition and acknowledging the importance and meaning each one represents.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year and I will probably write more about that later. But I love that I have a family that still gets together every holiday, to eat, play games and spend time.  All the preparation is worth it, when everything falls into place to help simplify the dinner hour.   Our house isn’t the biggest, nor does it have the best kitchen layout for a large gathering, but we manage. I do like to make sure everyone has a place to sit at a nicely set table, rather than having to use their laps.  So we bring in extra tables and make use of a bit more of the living room.

I try to make sure everyone is greeted and offered something to drink, at least initially - especially the kids. I want them, above all, to be comfortable and have fun. Eventually, as things get busier, they will be on there own for getting whatever it is they need. There are always lots of appetizers for everyone to snack on while we are waiting for the turkey to finish cooking; and for the time when eventually everything peaks and comes together in the last moments. 

As I am in the kitchen, I don’t get to hear many of the conversations; but our kitchen, dining room and living room are all open, so I try.  I will hear a snippet of a conversation here or there, as individuals make their way toward the appetizers and as everyone mingles. In the beginning, I probably drive everyone nuts by saying “Oh, what was that?”  “Where did that take place?”  “Now who was there?” You know; those kinds of questions that can be really irritating as one finishes their story and all of a sudden they have to repeat it.  But I can’t help it.  “Inquiring minds want to know!”  But as time goes on, I have to focus on “taking up dinner” as my grandma used to call it and I miss most of the socializing. I am happy to make dinner, but still, I always feel a little torn that I miss so much of the conversing.

It can be a bit stressful, making sure everything is ready at the same time, and that people are comfortable finding a place to sit.  I usually feel like a nag as I beg everyone to find a place at a table, so we can pray and get started before the food gets cold.

Our family has beome bigger over the years, as our kids grow and eventually marry and bring in additions to the family with their spouses and a new generation of little ones. Of course we love these “in-laws” as much as we love our blood relatives and we don’t even really think of them as “in-laws”.  But every once in a while, I am again reminded and amazed at how much I love our “new additions” and even those that aren’t so new.  So it was this year, when I asked my nephew (in-law) to pray before we ate this year. What a beautiful offering of thanks he gave before our meal, making so apparent what Thanksgiving is all about.  So too, was this one of those moments that remind me what a beautiful family we have with all of its extensions. What a wonderful husband and father this man has been to my niece and their kids. I am so proud of him and so thankful for him.

While we missed some of the family that no longer live close….and I mean reaallly miss, we also had guests that came to our Thanksgiving dinner for the first time.  What a joy it was to have them with us.  Steph brought some things that were a “tradition” in their own family.  She brought sweet potatoes made the way her family likes them, a beautiful cranberry Jello mold and a delicious green been salad, all dishes that made them feel a little more comfortable and were reminders of their own traditions.  I love that.

Though we tried to tell Mom she didn’t have to bake pies or rolls this year, she insisted. “Well, I am at least going to bring a lemon pie for my grandson!” It reminded me of my own grandma, (her mom) that without fail made a dish for a certain grandchild just because he or she loved it and would expect it.  Mom also made some salads that were long time family favorites.

After dinner this year, several began cleaning up while others finished eating. We then eventually settled into crazy games for those that like to play, and deep conversations, reading or television for others. I was at the game table, laughing and enjoying every minute. It was especially fun this year, with our new friends in attendance bringing their additional antics and excitement to the game table. But through my laughter, I also found myself secretly wishing that I could call out to those loved ones that I could hear in deep conversation. “Now, what was that you said?”

(Edgar Albert Guest, 1881-1959)

Gettin' together to smile an' rejoice,
An' eatin' an' laughin' with folks of your choice;
An' kissin' the girls an' declarin' that they
Are growin more beautiful day after day;
Chattin' an' braggin' a bit with the men,
Buildin' the old family circle again;
Livin' the wholesome an' old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother's a little bit grayer, that's all.
Father's a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an' to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin' our stories as women an men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we're grateful an' glad to be there.
Home from the east land an' home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an' best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We've come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an' be frank,
Forgettin' position an' station an' rank.

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.



  1. A seemingly seamless meal Jan. You have the knack of our Mom and that both Grandmas had. Thanks so much. It was a Wonderful Thanksgiving all round.

  2. Ha ha...thank you, Kelley! It never feels very "seamless", though...I mostly feel like there are TWO turkeys in the house. lol ;-)

  3. ...that would be: the turkey in the oven; and the one running around like her head is chopped off...buck-buck buck baaaaaaaaaa er I mean..gobble gobble!