Thanksgiving Day is a time for expressing gratitude for our blessings, and we have plenty of them in spite of all that’s going on around us.
Thanksgiving also is a time of remembrance, when family and friends recall past celebrations and pay homage to those who are no longer with us.
It’s always that way for me. I look to the future with hope. I delve into what is now my long ago and praise God for the mentors who gave me the love and the security that are the rights of all children.
The sounds, sights and aromas and tastes of the past remain clear in my mind and heart. My paternal grandmother’s ice box pies — the most extreme creations of thick, deep chiffon I have ever enjoyed — had only hints of the smell of various fruits, but they looked great and tasted greater.
The striking of the clock at noon and the eager shuffling of chairs with the air filled with "oohs" and "aahs" are part of the tradition that lives on in my heart. Maw didn’t have turkey or biscuits. She would fry her famous chicken and serve up a pot roast that had to be in her electric skillet by 6 a.m. to be ready the feast.
My grandfather had an affinity for yeast rolls after decades of biscuits and cornbread, so there were steaming platters of “lighter bread.” Don’t think they weren’t good covered in gravy. Gravy-covered mashed potatoes and dressing, too, but not the sweet potato casserole or the baked rice or the green beans, the peas and whatever else Maw would fix and family members brought in.
Yeah, we had a lot of carbs. I don’t think that’s changed much for anybody over the years. I was lucky to be part of a family (Dad’s and Mom’s) where all the women and a few of the men had kitchen skills to the max.
We needed all the trunk space in the cars just to go on a picnic, much less produce the Thanksgiving Day meal.
Maw whistled softly while she worked, no matter what she was doing. Her whistling was so soft I could never make out the tunes, but I know she whistled more than one because the cadence changed. She did not stop just because she had a house full of people at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
It was the sound of comfort.
We had Thanksgiving other places, too. One time, an uncle and aunt on Mom’s side of the family had everybody over for a feast. We got together many times, but this was when they lived in a two-bedroom, one-bath garage apartment. The main bedroom was bigger than the living room.
Nonetheless, there was room for eight adults and four children, of which I was the oldest. We had every inch of the kitchen and dining room occupied. The last person sat down only when the turkey was brought to the extended table and the oven door closed.
As usual there was as much laughter as there was food. Saying grace was the only quiet time. The dinner gave a whole new meaning to “rubbing elbows.” When we finally pushed back from the table, nothing was left of the big ol’ turkey but a pile of bones.
Someone remarked that there wouldn’t be any turkey left over for turkey salad, one of my uncle’s delights. He laughed, then confessed he had bought a second, smaller turkey because he didn’t figure there would be a shred left of the hefty one.
We loved to eat. We also enjoyed each other’s company. Whether I was at Maw’s, with her big country kitchen with two dining tables, or in my aunt’s tiny kitchen where a little cramming was necessary to accommodate more than four, they were always fun times.
I will tell you now that it was in that garage apartment, on that Thanksgiving, where we all had a hoot over the little stack of cocktail napkins in the bathroom that read “God Bless This Happy Occasion.”
Well, he did. And it was.
One of the best blessings is that my life has never run out of ingredients to make memories — good memories.
This Thanksgiving won’t be like any other because we are so concerned about health issues and we won’t have any huge gatherings. But we look forward to the day when we can get back together and continue traditions that never wear out.
Just remember this about memories: Do not feel sad. Let them enervate you, bless you and comfort you.
There is nothing wrong with embracing the joy and hope of childhood and taking it with you on your earthly journey. After all, blessings are portable.
Email Larry Clark at email@example.com.