Grit Blogs > A Well-Worn Path

Giving thanks for family, friends and memories past

It is the time to once again gather around our tables, heavy with delicious food, and give thanks for what we have, for what we have had and for all that is coming to us. There is nothing like a feast of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, and of course, pumpkin pie to kick off the holiday season. I began my pre-feast fast a week ago in anticipation of the huge, table bending meal. Thanksgiving is the best holiday of them all. It is like Christmas without the stress of shopping. 

Every family has their special traditions this time of year. Some do the traditional turkey feast, others will be setting their tables with goose, duck, ham or, like my friend Troy's family, lasagna.  

One of my family’s traditions that I miss the most was sitting at the Kid’s Table. I loved sitting at the card table set up in the kitchen or other place a comfortable distance from the Adult Table. The Adult Table was always set with the "good dishes," usually some sacred china gingerly passed down from one generation to another. The Kids' Table was set with the everyday dishes, and that was just fine with me, because everyone cared less if you accidentally broke one. 

It was at the Kids' Table where our great family traditions began. It was at this simple table that some of the best stories first happened and were shared. It was here that I once laughed so hard milk came out my nose, at which point my cousin Paula started laughing so hard she wet her pants, which we both thought was hysterical and commenced to laugh even harder, so hard we made ourselves sick, all to the escalating voices from our respective parents inquiring, "What's going on in there? What are you two doing? What in the world is so funny?" And at that, with our faces flushed from laughing so hard we were hyperventilating, we burst into even more uncontrollable giggles. 

Laughter like that almost never happened at the Adult Table. They were always so serious and proper, so somber and polite. It was at the Kids' Table that you could really cut loose and have a good time. 

Sometimes the stories begun around the table never die, but follow us from holiday to holiday, from year to year. One Thanksgiving when I was eight or nine, I blurted out toward the end of the meal that I could always tell when I was getting full because I started to sweat. For years, I couldn't sit down to a meal with family members without someone asking if I was sweating yet. It was funny the first few times, but after several decades, the joke grew old and stale.  

I not only miss the Kids' Table, but I miss gathering with my extended family at the holidays.  I no longer have any family to include me in their feasts, so I’ve been creating my own, new traditions, which often include crashing my friend’s family gatherings.  

I feel fortunate and am grateful to share a Thanksgiving meal with my chosen family of friends, but I miss those days when the house would be full of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The women gathering in the kitchen making final meal preparations, the men in the living room watching football, us kids racing around from one room to the other until someone shooed us outside to burn off some of our excitement. There was laughter then and the warm, secure feeling you get when you are surrounded by the people who have known and loved you from your first breath. I miss the feeling of belonging to something bigger that being around grandparents, aunts and uncles gave me. Why, I even miss being asked if I am sweating yet. 

But the only constant in life is change. Without it, we would all be stuck in the monotony of sameness. Despite not having my own family to sit with around a Thanksgiving table, I am grateful for so many fond and fun memories of Thanksgivings past and for having a large and loving circle of friends with whom to share this year's feast.  

So next Thursday, as well as every day, I will give heartfelt thanks for all of my many blessings, including things just as they are.