Last night, while I was slowly falling asleep, I was thinking back on past Thanksgivings, trying to conjure up some of my favorite memories. It’s interesting that as you get older, some traditions stay the same, but as people exit this world, the holiday takes on new shapes with new players and less characters. Such is the story of holidays in my life.
Thanksgiving was always one of my mother’s favorite holidays and I’m not even sure why? I never thought to ask. And now she’s gone and Thanksgiving doesn’t feel the same somehow. I’m very grateful for Alex’s family because they accepted me into their lives just months after my mom died, giving me an even larger and louder family than I had before. And I still spend holidays with my aunt, uncle and cousin, but as I was thinking back on past holidays, I realized that as a child, I always spent Thanksgiving with my father; a small detail I had forgotten.
If you’re not from or part of a divorced family you might be unaware that this wonderful thing happens where the kids get to “split” their holidays. The parents argue over which holiday each parent should get which usually makes the holidays an even better time for the kids. My dad was always awesome in that he didn’t really fight my mom for holidays because he knew it meant more to her than to him. Therefore, I didn’t have to go through that holiday, divorcee fighting crap.
Thanksgivings with my dad were spent in Sarasota, Florida with his fraternity brother, Phil, his wife Sue, and their two daughters, Betsy and Shelly. Honestly, looking back, it feels like yesterday, even though all of the kids are grown and my dad’s fraternity brother has passed away. I can remember watching the Macy’s Day Parade, mostly because Sue’s sister was a driver of the celebrities in a long, white Excalibur while all of the adults drank Bloody Mary’s, probably still a little hung over from the night before. Later, we would go to the beach and find our way home for afternoon naps followed by Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m not sure why I remember this one particular Thanksgiving, but it stands out strong in my mind. I must have been about 9 or 10 and I was sick. I can remember having to stay at their house instead of going to the beach. When it was time for Thanksgiving dinner, we all went to Phil’s mother’s house. Actually, she lived in a “condo”, a new word for me in 1980!
After dinner, I didn’t feel very well, so my dad let me sleep in Phil’s mother’s room while they drank and talked in the living room. I remember switching through the channels and settling on Miracle on 34th Street. Although we were in Florida, which is very un-Christmasy, the smell of the pine candles, the voices chattering in the other room and the television show combined, made me feel very safe and very much in holiday spirit, even sick.
I’m not sure what it was about that one moment in time that made me so happy, but I still love lying in bed listening to people speak in other rooms, being part of and not being part of something at the same time. I like lingering on the edges of conversations with people. I like to be an eavesdropper. And I love Miracle on 34th Street. For me, it is the perfect movie for Thanksgiving, and that year, sick and in bed, was the perfect Thanksgiving.
Later, I too drank Bloody Mary’s as an adult, but that didn’t work out too well for me. I ended up in AA!
On this Thanksgiving, make new memories. Laugh and cry. Eat your favorite things and remember to pay attention to the details. Life is in the details!
Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving memory? I’d love to hear it…leave it for me in the comment section below!