Celebrate Family and Friends
Thanksgiving is a word that evokes many thoughts and memories for each of us. Some have the vision once pictured in elementary school, of Pilgrims and Indians seated at a wooden table piled with food and eyes cast skyward.
Still others have thoughts of parades with huge balloons and dozens of brass bands, or football games either on TV or in the backyard. For me, like many, it’s family, plain and simple, the pure fellowship of lots of family.
The idea of being thankful roots itself with the first people to see and settle our then wild country. Settlers in 1607, in the colony of Virginia, and – a few years’ later – Pilgrims in 1621 in the Plymouth colony each knew their new home was special and a celebration was needed. George Washington issued a proclamation of thanksgiving after the Constitution was ratified in 1789. Later five more proclamations spread over four more presidents would happen until finally Abraham Lincoln would declare Thanksgiving a federal holiday in 1863, just days after giving the Gettysburg Address. We in our country have a political tradition of being a thankful people. “We the people” are thankful for the ratifications and proclamation of our freedoms given to us by the acts of self-governance. President Lincoln led us to celebrate and be thankful for a “government of the people, by the people, for the people…”
For me, however, it is about family and tradition. In 1893 my great-grandparents got married, built a barn and a nice farmhouse; their first meal in that new home was Thanksgiving dinner. They taught the values of God and family to their children and that has been passed down now through eight generations. This year will mark the 113th consecutive Thanksgiving gathering of our family.
Since my grandmother died in 1976, the cousins all take turns hosting the event. This year there will only be 62 of us at Cousin John’s house. It will take 42 pounds of turkey, 20 pounds of potatoes and five of us to prepare the meal from three locations, but in the end we will all sit down, using china plates and silverware, to once again eat together as a family.
We are blessed at the fact few of us live outside of a 25-mile radius. We are blessed that we have grown up close and so have our children. Several generations of wedding pictures show huge gatherings of cousins with each of us in the other’s weddings. It is a culture shock new girlfriends and boyfriends soon learn to love as they are easily accepted as one of the family.
I look forward to this day; the kids running everywhere underfoot; the laughing and teasing; the banter of dozens of conversations; and the bounty of plenty of home-cooked food. It’s a great time to put the frivolity of politics away and enjoy the thing that is always there for me at any turn – my family.
Have a great Thanksgiving.