Thanksgiving Memories

Today it’s time to take a break from the normal posts to give thanks. There’s not a great way to do that than to share some memories of my own about Thanksgiving Day that stand out during my 64 years on this Earth.

I remember when we were young, my grandpa would always come to our  house for Thanksgiving. My dad left when I was five and I really loved my grandpa. He was a stubborn old man who worked at a boys home for many years before he was let go. He then moved to Freeport Maine and worked as a Dairy Farmer. We loved our time spent in the summer on the farm helping him out, going out in his lobster boat, and running from the geese.   But Thanksgiving was special. He would come and gather the family together around the table. We typically had turkey and all the fixings. It was quite a feast for my single mom to put together. My grandpa had remarried a lady that we called Marge.  She was a great help in the kitchen as well.

Grandpa would say grace and carve the turkey on the table.  There was no question that i got a drumstick. After dinner we all took a nap and then we gathered together to play cards, usually hearts. It was a fun getting everybody together who was old enough to play.  I don’t really remember who won or who lost, but I learned the game well and typically win over 70% of my games on solitaire. Maybe that’s good, maybe that’s bad but I sure have fun doing it. And I think of those days with Grandpa.

Fast forward a few years to 1969. My brother had gone off to college in Ohio and I missed him terribly. We were best friends growing up and it was hard to see him leave the house as we always had a room together. There were no plans for him to come home until Christmas and Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same without him.

About 2 o’clock in the morning Thanksgiving morning I heard a tap on my window in my room. I was sneaking out at night quite often with friends so this wasn’t unusual. I wasn’t a very good boy that year. But this time it was my brother and I did all I could to contain myself as he told me to let him in quietly because he wanted to surprise everybody in the morning. He told me he had hitchhiked home, which was quite common in those days. He had gotten a ride from Erie Pennsylvania to within 10 miles of our house in Massachusetts. It was indeed a miracle and everybody celebrated in the morning when they saw he was home. Mom did not look forward to the prospect of him hitchhiking back but that was her. Rick loved it and no one was going to stop him.

Fast forward to 1978. It was my first Thanksgiving in Iowa and my mom and my brother came the day after because I was getting married the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We chose that day because it was Janeen’s sister’s birthday. November 25th of this year will be our 38th anniversary.

The wedding went very well. My bride was beautiful although she was a little scared. She really didn’t know me very well even though we had spent the last three months together pretty much exclusively. But she knew she was in it for a lifetime because our Christian faith told us that divorce was not an option. Everyone thought we were just a little bit crazy to go through with this but we knew it was God and we couldn’t back down.

I won’t go into all the details from the wedding – it was very nice. We had a fun reception at the city community center. Shoved cake in each others face, opened all the gifts, had good food and everything else. After the reception we planned a simple honeymoon in a hotel near us.

My mom and my brother were due to get on a flight the next afternoon only to find out that an ice storm was coming in and we weren’t sure whether their flight would go out or not. We headed up to Des Moines and the ice started settling in.  Flights were cancelled. We had to get hotel rooms in Des Moines and stay the night because the airport closed down. So we got a room the second night free because my mom paid for it. That was an extra treat. We got them on the plane the next morning and headed back home all ready to start our lives together.

And we’ve never looked back. The last memory I want to share here is our 25th anniversary. It was absolutely amazing. My daughter Angela had a small house but she said she wanted to host our anniversary dinner. Her daughter had a really big bedroom and they took three long tables and put them from corner to corner in the room completely filling the room. They got folding chairs and set them up – I believe there were 20 of them. My wife’s sisters and brothers and their kids came along. My three daughters fixed a whole meal for us. It was a time that I’ll never forget. Blessed me so much. I’m sitting here crying while I’m writing this. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with wine and great conversation around the table. I think we sat around that table for about 4 hours and just enjoyed each other’s company.

I hope that each of you have Thanksgiving memories as good as I do. This is the most special day of the year in my opinion. It’s not adulterated by toys and commercialism. There is no Thanksgiving bunny or Thanksgiving Claus or any of those things that the other holidays seem to have. It’s just a beautiful day to give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone

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