My younger brother Brian and his wife Ann hosted the annual family gathering this Thanksgiving. It was a combination of vegan and traditional dishes. The meal featured wild rice soup, cornbread pudding, roasted Brussels Sprouts and cheesy mashed potatoes. My husband made a turkey shaped bread loaf for the kids table. Yes, we had 5 children under 8.
I recall past Thanksgiving meals where the Heatley side of the family gathered the day before at Grandma and Grandpa’s home. The table was so long that it extended from the dining area into the living room beyond. Each family sat together rather than having a children’s table. I recall many cousins around the table.
On Thanksgiving day, we gathered either at Grandpa and Grandma Turnbull’s home or in later years at our home for the meal. The main meal was served at halftime and the dessert and coffee was delayed until the end of the game. The game was the Detroit Lions vs the Chicago Bears. Each Thanksgiving, I would set the table while Great Aunt Pearl, and Grandma would prepare the meal. My Mother and Aunt Marian stayed out of their way in the small kitchen. My Mom would wash cooking dishes as they were used then discarded.
As a child, I thought that the meal took forever to place on the table. My stomach growled as I waited for the extended Thanksgiving prayer to conclude. I went for the olives first. It didn’t matter if they were black or green. Next I scooped up a large helping of turkey stuffing.
One year, Aunt Pearl brought a goose for my mother to prepare. It had been in her freezer for a long time. Neither she nor my mother had a clue how goose should be prepared. It turned out to be very greasy and chewy. That year, we ate vegetarian.
This year, the meal was cooked by seven different cooks. Clay Drake and his brother Tray provided the turkey.
Twelve adults and five children shared the feast.
I noticed that the family all talked at once, making it difficult to follow and listen to each speaker. I gave up and smiled while petting one of Ann’s dogs. Several voices were distinctive to be understood over the others. I did my best to remain alert , but I must have dosed a bit.
The salad and then the courses were brought to each person at the table. This may have been due to the tightness of the seating.
Feeling for the silverware, glasses and dishes, I orientated what was in my area. I made it successfully through the salad, soup and main courses. We had dessert after a short break to clean up the dishes.
I returned to the family room near the fire.
“Aunt Carol, you are the oldest family of the family” quipped my niece .
“How did that Happen?” I mused
My childhood memories tumbled down with a reality check. I was the oldest family member there and the oldest woman in the family.
“Where was brother Bob when I needed him?”
Next year, I will be sure to have one of my older brothers on hand. mean while I will enjoy the blending of the generations, hugging each of my family members. I am blessed. Happy Holidays.
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