Thanksgiving Follies

Well since it’s Thanksgiving and all, I had better wow you with stories of Thanksgiving’s past.There a few lasting memories of my childhood that involve Thanksgiving.  I will only share one of those memories.

When I was eight years old we had just moved into this house that was literally on the side of a mountain—no seriously it was. Our backyard was quite large, but there was a path that went up the backside of the mountain.  It was not your average back yard and the dog would often take off for a couple hours. I would envision her to be like a dog from the story Heidi.

Anyway, let’s envision the typical Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings and all the guests raving about how good the food is…now let’s do a 360-degree turn and realize that this Thanksgiving was nothing like that. There were no friends and my family didn't wear matching sweaters.

My mom was a great cook and would always make the normal sides to accompany the bird—mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, Brussels sprouts, and green beans.  I would never eat the stuffing as a child and green beans were my least favorite.

This past year was particularly hard.  My dad lost the family business and mom was forced to go back to work. I became a latchkey kid for the first time in my life. I walked what seemed like miles to get to school. My dog became my only friend. My siblings were so much older than I and there was a disconnect.

At any rate, Thanksgiving was a time to come together and appreciate one another. My mom asked, “Jenny, please take the turkey to the table for me.” I was up for the challenge, but there was a part of me that always wondered why she would ask an eight year old to carry a bird that was clearly heavy and also slippery on the platter. I gave it my all. I picked up the platter and it was heavier than I had anticipated. The front end of the platter became heavy and gravity took over and the plate tipped forward and the turkey flew off the plate and hit the ground.

The dog sensing a good meal but also fearing my mom’s vengeance stood there and licked her lips. Instantly, I feared for my life. My mom, as good as a mother as she was, had a sharp tongue and a quick hand. I managed to shriek, “ohhhhh my goodness Mommy! I’m so sorry.” To be honest, I hadn’t called her mommy in years, but I felt that she’d be easier on me if I sounded like a much younger child.

Her response while laughing was, “Did you think you were in trouble?” Well actually yes I did, but I laughed with her, albeit a nervous laugh.  The three-second rule applied here, even if we hadn’t coined it as such. My mom was not going to throw out a perfectly edible bird.  Even if her moods were unpredictable, we could count on her being prideful about her cooking.

The one thing we always did as a family was eat together. My parents always approached dinner as our time to connect with one another and to hear about each other’s day. I still practice this with my family. We laugh together and sometimes laugh so hard that we cry together. We also make faces at one another and have been doing so since my daughter was a baby. I know it’s unconventional, but it’s our family-thing. My husband started this tradition by giving us this face that we coined “moose face” and it stuck. To everyone else it would look like a serious face, but to us it’s the “moose face”.

At Thanksgiving my mother would also ask us “what are you thankful for?” I have also carried this tradition on with my family. This year as in all years, I am thankful for my family and my friends. But I am also thankful for the opportunity to write and for having a forum to showcase my writing.

So, what are you thankful for this year?

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Jennifer Ward

RantingnRaven on twitter