Monday Morning Musings

Freezing rain and sleet here this morning. That does not bode well for the pine trees that are so distressed from drought and pine beetles. Here’s hoping that none of them come down on my fences or buildings. 

Since we are heading on toward Thanksgiving, I thought I would reprise my Thanksgiving reflection. Enjoy….

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…”

Courtesy of MuralMan

 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 other-world.

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.”

With memories like that, it was hard for me to face the formidable task of creating Thanksgiving Days that would live in glory for my children.

By the time they were old enough to appreciate the holiday, we were living in Texas, so mountains and snow were out of the question, and my singing never could quite match my father’s. I didn’t possess even a tenth of the culinary skills of my grandmother and my aunts, so the meal would probably be lacking. And we were more than a thousand miles away from cousins to help distract my children from their impatience.

Despite those limits, however, we managed to muddle through. I was able to prepare a passable dinner, and my husband actually raved about the German dressing. The pies were a major hit, all ten of them, and everyone was willing to eat the broccoli for the promise of a second piece of pie.

After cheering the Dallas Cowboys to another victory, most years, we would all tumble outside for a family game of touch-football. Not the same as rolling down a snow-covered hill, but good enough.

Now, in sifting through all these random recollections I realize that the memory itself is not what is important. What is important is the fact that we have memories and they don’t happen by accident. No matter what we do to mark these important occasions, it is vital that we do mark them. Even if our process doesn’t live up to a Martha Stewart image or our own fond remembrances of childhood.

So here’s to our memories, no matter how we create them.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving memories?

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