I find myself alone this morning on Thanksgiving morning. My husband is deployed overseas, my son is serving in the Air Force in Turkey with his wife and my daughter is spending the second half of her Thanksgiving break with her boyfriend’s family. And so I started this morning just as the sun was beginning to top the ridges and peek over with such gorgeous color through the thin clouds. Riley and I took a hike up to the top of the road and then back down to the cabin and finally back to the house. The leaves are all gone now and the house is visible to an extent from the road.
I passed a deer hunter on his four-wheeler at one point and at times I could hear a gun shots echoing through the valley. Thanksgiving day and deer hunting are a deeply rooted tradition in these mountains. I thought about the days when the hunting was done in the fall solely so that the meat could be kept through the cold weather to last. Hog killing, preparing sausage and curing ham are also taking place today and this weekend. And all of this is just as it has been for generations.
I will be getting together with the extended family today and my oven is warming up to cook my portion of the Thanksgiving meal today. I find myself remembering these family celebrations from my childhood. Memories that are so much a part of who I am. Remember the “kids table”? I found this picture of a Thanksgiving breakfast at my grandparents’ home complete with siblings and a cousin. We were always placed at the kids table out of necessity due to space but what a great time we had! The brunette with the long hair making the face is me. I can’t tell you how many countless meals I ate at that table growing up. The grown ups would sit at the table beside us, my grandparents, my aunt and uncle and my parents, all talking and laughing. The cooking would begin the day before in this house. I can still hear my aunt calling my mother “Bethie” and the tiny kitchen would be full of bowls, pots, and pans. My grandmother would seemingly spend all day in the kitchen making one thing after another. The smells were amazing and would overpower the room making us hungry long before the time to eat.
The kids–me included–would go outside to play whenever possible on the hillsides, under the rhododendron, and yes, in the leaves. My father would help us rake them and as you can see, my brother and I would waste no time getting right inside. We played Daniel Boone, and all kinds of games of make believe. Outside in the yard were three very large flat pieces of stone that were arranged to resemble a table with two lower stones and one laying on top. That was our place to picnic in the summer or just eat an afternoon snack of graham crackers and peanut butter.
My grandmother would often call us in with an old whistle when it was time to come inside to eat. And if she called us by name from the back porch–you didn’t dare answer her with “huh?”. Because she would call you again until you answer yes or yes ma’am. And in we would come with the grown ups trying to make sure they didn’t trip on us running through the room trying to get ready. Once all was on the table, we would sit down and my grandfather would say the blessing and FINALLY, we would get to eat! Don’t you remember when it felt like it would never get done? We would have turkey, dressing, green beans, cranberry jelly, and of course dessert! Looking back on these memories I find myself so very grateful to have them. And I know this afternoon I will be making more memories for the next generation.
I hope you all have a very wonderful Thanksgiving! And I hope you kids table is full!