In honor of the holiday most Americans are celebrating this week, I thought I’d share some thoughts about Thanksgiving from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. Part 2 will appear tomorrow for the one or two folks in America who might be on the Internet at some point in the day.
There’s an old traditional Thanksgiving song that starts out, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go….”
When I was a child, my Dad would break into that song as we crossed the Pennsylvania border into West Virginia on our annual pilgrimage from Michigan to celebrate the holiday with his family. “The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, through the white and drifting snow…”
The closer we got to his childhood home, the heavier his foot rested on the gas pedal as our Chevy station wagon climbed the hills on twisting roads and flew on the downside. His rich baritone voice belted the song, and in my imagination we were on that sleigh behind dapple grays in their rhythmic trot. I could hear the clump of their hooves and feel the blowing snow bite my cheeks as we were carried along.
It was magic, pure and simple. A magic that continued for the few days that we stayed in that otherworld.
Today as those memories float pleasantly through my mind, I can almost smell the wonderful aromas of sage dressing, pumpkin pie, and mulled cider that permeated my grandmother’s house. And I can hear the bustle of activity accompanied by short bursts of conversation among the women in the kitchen. The front bedroom is where the men gathered and brought out guitars and harmonicas. Their music became another soundtrack.
My brothers, sisters, and I would join other cousins in the back bedroom in between our numerous trips outside. Our biggest challenge was to see who could roll down the hill and retain the most amount of snow, turning ourselves into living snow people.
The second biggest challenge came at dinner when we vied to have the honor of receiving one of the drumsticks. They were dolled out on a ‘merit’ system based loosely on which of us waited the most patiently for the great announcement, “Dinner’s Ready.”
Today, almost all of the people who were part of those celebrations are gone, even my dad. What I wouldn’t give for one more opportunity to sing that song with him again, but I am ever so thankful for the memories.