Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tales of Thanksgivings Past

I just realized that while I have many fond memories of spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my family and friends I rarely take photos on the day.  There aren't any with my husband's uncle and cousins from our visit with them last year, and I can only find two or three taken on a turkey day since we have been married.  I'm not sure why I don't think to take photos on this day of gratitude while there are dozens of shots of the trees, decorations and gifts from Christmases past.  Thanksgiving is almost always a time when I'm surrounded by the people I love and the ones I am truly blessed to call my family, be they relatives through blood or friendship.  I can recall so very many happy Thanksgiving days with folks I love and I'm extremely blessed to have shared this meal with dozens of you dear friends.  In this day of social media and instant access to our daily experiences I hope I will be seeing and hearing the celebrations of those dearest to me even if they aren't nearest.

Tomorrow we'll be headed to Andy's Uncle Frank's house once again to have dinner with their family.  I will be spending the morning making a tray of cookies to share with everyone and some extra for us to enjoy over the weekend.  I'm thinking nut tassies and snickerdoodles, and maybe pizelles if I can dig out my iron to make them in the morning.  Andy treated me to a wonderful rotisserie chicken tonight and now I am stuffed and sleepy but luckily his family eats dinner later in the day so I'll have plenty of time tomorrow for baking while I watch the Macy's parade.

Ah, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade!  My friend Sherwyn works for Macy's and it is my secret dream to be in the parade - maybe next year I can convince him to go and sneak me in as his sister because that would be awesome.  I remember being in highschool and having our band director Tammy try to get our tiny 27 piece marching band to be in the parade.  We had more band front than actual musicians, and we pobably wouldn't have been able to afford to go even of we were selected by some miracle, but man did I hold out hope every year that we would.   I have to admit that I whisper words of encouragement and silently cheer all the kids who are dancing, twirling and playing their hearts out in the parade.  Whenever someone drops a flag or plays a crazy discordant note I send them all the good vibes I can manage, because I know that if I were them I would want someone thinking of me.   I wouldn't want my moment on national tv to be remembered for the way I goofed up out of nervousness and excitement, but considering the fact that I tripped on stage at both my high school and college graduation (and didn't walk at my grad school ceremony for that reason) and fell off the stage entirely at my first jazz band show in college I know I would be that kid!  Tomorrow I will watch the marching bands who did make it and the Broadway numbers and cry because that's what I always do.  I'm not sure if it's from excitement for the kids and performers or nostalgia from watching it so many times with my mom and dad, but I'm pretty much a teary mess so I'll wait to put on mascara until after the dog show starts.

No matter how many years pass or things change, I always wish I were going home to spend the day with my family in Pennsylvania.  Thanksgiving is one of my dad's favorite holidays because as he once said "it is a day that is centered around food which is something I'm always thankful for!".  My mom used to cook for all of us and we would have 20+ people crammed into our tiny living room when my brother and sisters came with their kids.    It was always a day of talking and laughing and playing board games and cards at the kitchen table.  Everybody was underfoot and it was a wonderful time.

There was a tradition in my family that started with my sister Monica when she had her first child Patrick.  Pat was born in February and he started walking early - he loved to pull himself up and toddle around the house reaching out for the edges of the tables and furniture to help him along.  We were all waiting to eat and she said "want to see Pat's new dance?"  She picked him up and set him on the table and started chanting "tur-key tur-key!" as he jumped and she swung him back and forth.  We all laughed and chanted along with him and my mom declared him "the cutest lil' turkey ever" and called us all in to eat.  That was the start of the "Turkey Dance" that every baby in our family would interpret come Thanksgiving day, with a repeat performance at Christmas.  This year will mark Patrick's daughter Niah's first ever turkey dance, and I am so sad I'm going to miss it.  Please Kelli and Pat or Marissa video it and send it to me!

I also miss the wonderful "Orphan's Thanksgiving" dinners that my friend Danny would host when I worked at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.  Since we all had A Christmas Carol opening that week and we needed to be at dress rehearsals and work incredibly long hours to get the show finished, there wasn't a lot of time to head home and visit family.  Danny would host a special meal for all of us that we would share together and he made the most delicious turkey, cornbread stuffing, and hummingbird cake ever.  We would all bring our family's favorite side dishes or cookies and desserts and we would eat ourselves mad.  It was wonderful to share the day with so many friends and to talk about our families back home with fondness and laughter.

There have also been a few Thanksgiving food disasters in my past.  They are so funny now that I look back and the little foibles in dinner preparations are some of the memories that tickle me the most.  I couldn't forget the toothpaste cake we had at one of the Orphan Thanksgivings or the peppermint cookies that were so sharp they cut my tongue if I tried (the names of the bakers are omitted to protect the well meaning and wonderful friends who shared these treats).  The forgotten, burnt and dried out green bean casserole that was proffered as "astronaut green beans" by my mom after we had visited the Dayton Air Force museum and I had my first taste of dehydrated astronauts ice cream still cracks me up.  And finally, the phrase "throw me a roll" will always have a hilarious life of its own after a long ago Thanksgiving day in my family before I was even born.

I wish you all much love, much tryptophan exhaustion and much family tomorrow.  I sincerely wish I could spend a moment with each of you and tell you how your friendship and love touches my heart today and every day.

Kisses and Hugs to you all.

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