Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving: it used to be about family

Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday when I was growing up. We used to go to my Aunt Louise's house in Canton for our big family dinner. Aunt Louise was my dad's oldest sister, and she and her husband, Uncle Virgil had three children, my cousins Butch, Barbara and Greg. My Grandma Fischer, my Aunt Isabel and my cousin Dave, who all lived together, would be there, and sometimes Uncle Virgil's mother, Mrs. Smith, would join us, as well. Assorted dates and, eventually, spouses of my cousins were sometimes present; it seemed like there was always room at the big table set up in the family room.

My dad was a lot younger than his sisters, and so, of course, we were a lot younger than our cousins. We were the only ones who had left Canton, and, in addition to that, the rest of the family did not like my mother, so we really were the odd ones out. I don't know that either of my brothers liked going there as much as I did, but I loved it. I think I was too much like my mother for either of my aunts' liking, but I was the little princess my boy cousins doted on, and I loved them all right back. In my dad's family I was called "Anne Louise", sharing a family middle name with my cousin, Barbara and, later, her daughter, Chrissy. Being relegated to the kids' table wasn't so bad when at least one of our big cousins always sat with us.

When Ben and I were first married, we spent our Thanksgivings at his parents' house in South Euclid. I loved being there for my favorite holiday. His younger sisters, Liz and Laura, and his brother, Vic, still lived at home then. Later, after they were married, Laura would be there with her first husband, Al, and Liz's husband, Jim was there, as well. My mother-in-law makes the best stuffing in the world - my favorite part of the meal - and she always made enough for us all to have second and third helpings of that and everything else. (They are Italian, after all.) I thought we would always spend our Thanksgivings together that way.

We have been hosting Thanksgiving dinner since we moved to this house seven years ago. My dad and my brother always drive out, and when Bill was dating Laura, he used to bring her along. Tom and Julie were always home for the holiday, and I remember one year Andrew was here, as well, so we set up a "kids' table" for the three of them - probably the only time my kids were relegated there. It is a huge amount of work, but what a great feeling when it is all cleared away, the dishwasher loaded, and the turkey carcass simmering in a stockpot.

This year, Tom and Kristy are in Oklahoma with her family, and my dad and Bill don't want to make the drive. I'm not sure yet whether Andrew will eat here or with his family. Chances are it will be Ben, Julie, and me for dinner. I never imagined our Thanksgivings ending up like this. Well, the food will still be good, even though I never did learn how to make stuffing like my mother-in-law.


tom said...

Don't worry, Mom--we may be in Oklahoma, but we still have internets and telephony to keep in touch with you, and I'm looking forward to having a nice chat (that I won't have to wrap around house guests) on Turkey Day. I'll miss you guys (and so will Kristy), but it will be great to have Christmas to spend with you in a month or so!

Sister is still making the long drive in to help you with headcount, and Thanksgiving is really the last holiday left that they haven't found out how to merchandise, so I think it still is mostly about family.

Bryan said...

I concur that Thanksgiving is the most wonderful time of the year, and that I have fond memories of family gatherings. The only real silver lining I can give you for this year's setup is that something special or unusual may happen at this Thursday's meal, and years from now you'll be blogging about "I still remember that time when, as a fluke, it was just the 3 of us for Thanksgiving, and [something funny/happy/touching] happened."

For example, when I was in 3rd grade, we flew to Tucson for spring break to visit my great aunt and see Indians spring training. We didn't get to have our traditional family Easter meal, but to this day I distinctly remember hunting for Easter eggs in the hotel room.

Then there was the time, again spring break, we were following my brother's college baseball team around Kentucky or wherever they were, and we actually brought along some hard-boiled eggs in the cooler so we could color eggs in the hotel room.

I remember the time my aunt and uncle from Wyoming planned a last-minute trip to Ohio and spent Thanksgiving with us, which forced us to hurry up and finish the "new" family room before they arrived. That room was in a half-finished mess for no less than 2 years, yet we installed the carpet, fireplace mantle, and hearth in about 2 weeks.

anne mancine said...

What good kids you all are! Thank you. Although I will miss you this week, Tom and Kristy, I sure am looking forward to having you here for Christmas. Maybe you can even invite Bryan here while you are in town.

Ben said...

Food. Family. Football. These are what Thanksgiving has become. Oh wait, there's also Shopping. But that doesn't fit quite as well. Still I like the idea of taking time out to acknowledge the things we can be thankful for. We all want more, we all have dreams. That is a good thing. But maybe we can pause now and then to look around and maybe say, "I know what else would be nice, but hey, this is pretty nice too."

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!