How are you? It’s hard to believe we’re on the eve of our second Thanksgiving without you here. So what do you get to do on Thanksgiving in heaven? Are you allowed to come and attend celebrations and family get-togethers here? I hope so. I’m sure you are spending time with family there and are busy doing heaven stuff. If you happen to run into my guardian angel up there that had the assignment of watching over me when I was a kid and a teenager, tell him thanks and that I’m sorry for all the overtime.
I miss seeing you always, but especially during the holidays. I miss walking into the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning and smelling your homemade dinner rolls rising under a warm dishtowel and pies baking. Usually you’d make pies ahead of time along with the stuffing. You’d save the bread for weeks and would sit and crumble it up at the kitchen table.
Dad usually cooked the turkey, and still to this day, the smell of a cooking turkey wafting through the house in the early morning hours brings back all those memories of you and Dad at Thanksgiving. I remember you making the gravy from the turkey drippings in the bottom of the roaster pan, adding flour and milk while stirring with your U-shaped wire whisk. Sometimes if we were lucky, you and Dad would make carrot pudding with caramel sauce. It was that exact delicacy that you sent to me when I was living in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and missing home.
You always seemed to make the holidays special for us wherever we were.
At home you’d make sure the TV was tuned to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade if we were living where we had TV. I think I was in second grade when you and Dad bought our first set. We didn’t have television while we lived in France, and I still marvel that you were able to help us realize the luxuries we didn’t have as kids would solidify and strengthen our family bonds as we got older. We could only get a few channels, and when the antenna broke off (as you knew it eventually would) we shoved a bent-up coat hanger in the hole with tin foil wrapped around the top to try and get better reception. We’re lucky no one got electrocuted (more guardian angel overtime).
We would plan our family schedules around the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials. Back then if we missed a program, too bad. You’d buy TV Guides for the month of December so we could mark all the holiday specials..
More often than not, we had guests over for Thanksgiving. Dad either invited airmen over who were on temporary duty away from home (TDY) or one or two sets of missionaries. Sometimes you’d invite folks that you were helping through tough times. I hope you got to meet all those people you’ve helped and loved over your lifetime here. I’m sure the line is still growing. Some of our funnest Thanksgivings were when you and Dad would load us all up and take us to Aunt Beth’s in D.C. where we’d spend the weekend playing football, visiting, sightseeing and of course eating.
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving was enjoying the leftovers for days afterwards. Dad’s chess pie was even better after a few days if it ever lasted that long. Dad would boil down the turkey carcass that provided homemade turkey noodle soup for all of us. I do the same thing each year. The smell emanating from the simmering stock pot keeps the sounds of Thanksgiving alive for a few more days even as the Christmas fervor begins in earnest.
Back when “Black Friday” was a new novelty and still “fun,” I remember telling you my plans to get up at 2 a.m. and go stand outside in the bitter cold to be one of the first to get a good deal, and I believe you laughingly responded with, “I thought I raised smarter kids than that!” I’m pretty sure you were a good mind reader too because there were several Black Friday trips after that where I seriously questioned my own intelligence or lack thereof.
I remember the days following Thanksgiving when we’d head north to cut our Christmas trees. I remember you in your red wool coat and scarf watching out the truck window as we’d wander around looking for the perfect family tree. They all looked great with snow on them. You always agreed that the one we had found was the best one yet.
This Thanksgiving, for the first time in a long while, I’ll be spending Thanksgiving here with just the dogs. Lynda is headed south to welcome a new grandbaby into the family, all the kids are celebrating with their family or friends, and I’ll be cooking our traditional meal for any of the kids who happen to drop in.
I’ll stay up late Wednesday night cooking pies and watching Christmas movies. The turkey will go in the oven early, and as it cooks and I’ll switch on the Macy’s parade, pull out the letters you wrote to your folks at Thanksgiving time when we lived in France, and remember how much you cared and sacrificed for us all.
Happy Thanksgiving, Momma.