Last year on Thanksgiving I was working at Cracker Barrel and it baffled me as to how packed we were. I was shocked at the amount of people who chose to eat out on Thanksgiving. Apparently that is becoming increasingly popular. Why? I don’t know. We could theorize about the lack of desire to get together with family, the lack of forgiveness leading to family strife, etc…but that’s not really what I’m wanting to talk about.
Sadly, the people that are going out to eat Thanksgiving at Cracker Barrel or wherever, are missing out. Yes, you’re still with some family and yes, you’re eating, but going out to eat lunch or dinner on Thanksgiving just isn’t as memorable as it could be. I feel like the more materialistic we become the less important family is (hence Black Friday starting on Thanksgiving…but don’t get me started on that). I feel myself getting on my soapbox and this isn’t really what I wanted to talk about.
When it comes to the holidays I want memories over materials. I want family over a good deal at Walmart. Thanksgiving and the traditions that go along with it have changed dramatically since I was a kid (I sound old as I say that).
Not everyone will be able to relate to this, but do you know what I remember about Thanksgiving?
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was ALWAYS at my Granny’s house. On Thanksgiving morning (which sometimes was as exciting as Christmas) by the time I got to my Granny’s house (she lived right behind us and our back yards connected) the turkey was in the oven, I could smell the dressing (I don’t like dressing), pies and other delicious foods.
The parade would be on the TV in the living room, but in the dining room, some form of Christmas music would be playing. More specifically the RECORD, Conway Twitty — A Twismas Story, was playing. My Dad and Granddad (and others I’m sure) would be setting up tables and bringing in fold up chairs. You see, when I said Thanksgiving was at my Granny’s house I meant just about everyone in the immediate family came to my Granny’s house for lunch.
Here are some foods I could count on EVERY year for Thanksgiving: Turkey, mexican chicken (yes, we eat mexican chicken at Thanksgiving), potatoes and eggs (some concoction my Granny apparently made up), dressing and chocolate pie. Obviously there were other foods, but these were the important ones.
Going back to the people…for Thanksgiving the house was full. There was my Granny, Granddad, Mom, Dad, me; my aunts, Angela, Shelia, Jean; my uncles, Jackie, Earl and James; Dad’s best friend, Mike and (later on his wife) Joy and my cousins, Amanda, Jessica, Richard, Nick, Brittney, Jimmy, Stephen and Lindsey and others that I’m sure I can’t remember. It was pretty much the same every year.
This was the way it was for years. Sadly, my Granddad died and so did my Aunt Jean and Uncle Earl. When that happened Richard, Nick and Brittney left the picture and as you can see we’ve slowly dwindled down. It seems like (and it may not have been so dramatic, but when you’re a kid everything’s different) everything changed pretty quickly as far as Thanksgiving goes. Not long before my Granddad died my Mom and Dad got a divorce, so that changed things too.
This was the beginning of the evolution of traditions. We had less people coming to Thanksgiving at Granny’s and after lunch I was going to Mom’s house to celebrate with them.
When my Granny died, Thanksgiving dinner was passed down to my Aunt Angela. The tradition evolved into lunch at my Mom’s and dinner at my Aunt Angela’s. When Jimmi and I got married, we added in Jimmi’s parents house. So on Thanksgiving we have 11 a.m. lunch at Mom’s, 2 p.m. lunch at Jimmi’s mom’s and 6 p.m. dinner at my Aunt Angela’s. Yes…our Thanksgiving is very busy.
Things have changed since I was little. But you know what? Some things haven’t. On Thanksgiving, I know that I’m going to be eating turkey, mexican chicken, potatoes and eggs (which I always make), dressing (which I don’t eat, but I like the fact that it’s there) and chocolate pie. My Dad has possession of the Conway Twitty record, but I have it on my computer and on my phone so I still get to listen to it.
When I go to my Mom’s it is always me, my sister Rachel, my step-dad Jerry and other random people. The neat thing about the tradition at my Mom’s is that everyone is invited. You never know who’s going to be there. Sometimes my Grandma and a whole bunch of my great uncles show up along with random people from the church and sometimes it’s just us.
At my Aunt’s house it is starting to fill up like it used too but with a few different faces. Now there’s Aunt Angela, Uncle Jackie, Jessica; Amanda and her husband, David and their kids, Avery, Maddie, Ashlynn and Caleb; Dad and my step-mom, Annita; me and Jimmi and Josiah (and next year Samuel); Aunt Shelia and Uncle James and depending on whether he’s out of town, our family friend, Buddy. We’re pretty much increasing the numbers like before…the difference is instead of my grandparents and all my cousins, it’s Josiah’s grandparents and all of his cousins.
Sometimes getting older sucks. As I write this I desperately want to go back and be there with my Granny and Granddad and everyone else for Thanksgiving. But you know what? Things change. New traditions have to be made and old one’s tucked away as sweet memories. I don’t really care to think about how the Thanksgiving traditions will change over the next 30+ years. I can tell you one thing though. No matter who is there and where we are, there will always be turkey, mexican chicken, potatoes and eggs, dressing, chocolate pie, and Conway Twitty.