I can’t help it.

When it comes time to give
thanks one of the things I am most thankful for is family. So it makes sense that’s
where my thoughts go on this special day.
When I was young Thanksgiving
(not to mention Christmas) meant a mandatory trip to Mamaw’s house in Electra
TX. There was no choice . . . but we didn’t want a choice. That’s where all of
us wanted to be. The aromas that would come from that kitchen were torture, and
it seemed to take forever before it was time to eat. How that many ladies
managed to be involved in that small a space is something I can’t wrap my head
around today, and as to where we all slept in that tiny house? I have no idea.
I was the oldest of my
generation, the only one slightly ahead of the baby-boomers which meant I
presided over the second table. The men were around the first table and the
women would eat later. (I presume they were able to do this because they did a
lot of sampling as they cooked) Whether that was true or not, that’s how Mamaw
decreed it would be and that diminutive little lady was the queen. The year
there would have been an opening at the first table was also the year Mamaw
died so I never got to get one of those coveted seats.
After her death Mother became
the Mamaw of her own tribe, and we were all just as loyal. No matter what was
going on in our lives Thanksgiving and Christmas were mandatory appearances
there in Pampa TX. Wonderful, wonderful times and it often seems that the
happiest times of my life centered around the gatherings in the two towns.
My father and my brother
passed on within months of each other, my brother actually at Christmas. By
some unspoken assent Christmas and Thanksgiving passed to my wife and I although
mom was with us and clearly still presided. I loved these gatherings and the
happy memories continued.
Finally, Christmas shifted to
my son’s house. It just made sense to have it there as they had the room and it
was much less to try to pack and carry the things they need to carry with three
kids. Thanksgiving became just mom, Saundra and I with an occasional guest or
two. After she passed, we began just inviting a couple of people over, the last
couple of years the pastor and his wife. Much smaller, but still great
memories.
My life seems to be summed up
in these rites of passage measured by the passing of the baton for hosting
these joyous events. All are special to me and the memories flood around me at
this time of year. Each definitively mark a period in my life, and perhaps the
passage of time make each more dear, particularly those early days at Mamaw’s
house.
I do hope your Thanksgiving
is every bit as special and your memories just as dear. When it comes time to
count blessings, these are some I count without fail.