Soon, many of our homes will be filled with the delicious smells of Thanksgiving. The turkey or ham will be cooked to perfection, the chestnut stuffing, the candied yams and the pumpkin pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream will be part of our feast.
For some, it will be a time to reunite with family members from a far and friends seldom seen. It will also be an occasion for time honored traditions and each family has them. In my family getting a piece of the turkey skin before the meal was served was considered a privilege.
This tradition will be lost to my family as my daughter is a vegetarian and I don't think Tofu has skin and even if it did, not an appetizing picture. One tradition that has continued is a practice instituted by my mother where everyone around the table takes a minute or so to say what they are thankful for.
When I was very young, my family would have thanksgiving at my aunt's house and there were twenty-five or so people usually in attendance. The adults sat together and all the kids sat together. At the time, I couldn't understand why some of the women seated at the table would shed a tear sometimes when they gave thanks and sometimes it felt like I was in church and not about to eat Thanksgiving dinner. I don't remember the meals so much, but some of the words that were spoken I do remember.
My aunt and mom would always say how important their relationship was with each other and those words were very powerful. Their relationship prevailed until my aunt was nearly 101 and my mom was 90. The women gave thanks that Grandma Scott was in good health or that Aunt Annie had recovered from gall bladder surgery. Aunt Millie would often mention those that had passed away, but were missed including two of her children that were lost during birth.
These moments were the most emotional as this pain obviously registered with every woman around the table. Several of the women thanked the Johnson Mine Company where most of the men around the table were employed.
My uncle Art was a larger than life man, six foot four, always a cigar in his mouth, and scotch on his breath, would always grumble at being put through this Thanksgiving tradition much to the predictable anger of my Aunt Mamie. In fact, none of the men really said much at all. I'm not sure that men of that time were allowed to say what was in their hearts publicly.
The ladies in attendance baked a variety of pies and after dinner, about a half dozen of them were loaded into a car and brought to the Episcopal church where the church would be holding a dinner for those that had no family or resources to have a Thanksgiving dinner.
So much has changed since I was a little boy, however, the ideas of giving thanks for what we have and sharing with those less fortunate has not.
This Thanksgiving, consider giving a donation of food or money to your local food shelf and include your children when you do it. Sadly, there will be many more Americans that will need this kind of help this year.
If you don't already have a tradition of giving thanks at your Thanksgiving dinner consider starting a new tradition that includes giving thanks for all that you have. It's OK if you get emotional; it's OK to shed a few tears in the course of giving thanks to and for the people that you love.
One thing that has changed for the good from my boyhood Thanksgivings is that men can share their feelings without the fear of being seen as odd or worse. On this Thanksgiving if your family celebrates by eating turkey or tofu, be glad that you are healthy, have a roof over your head and surrounded by loved ones or friends.
If you find yourself in this fortunate circumstance; then you have a great deal to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!
Remember, all kids count.
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