Thursday, November 26, 2009
I will never forget the anticipation of Thanksgiving as a child. For us, it was almost as exciting as Christmas.
We lived much too far from most of our relatives on both sides of the family, but Aunt Jan lived close enough that we would occasionally make the long journey to her house. The six of us would pile into our little Volkswagen Bug with an ice chest full of sandwiches at mom's feet and off we'd go.
My favorite part was always being able to sit, knee-to-knee, with my younger brother in what we called the 'very back' seat. We felt bad for our older siblings who had to share the roomier seat in front of us. Funny thing is, they never seemed to complain.
We would pass the time trying to be the first to spot a certain letter of the alphabet or license plate, guessing how many miles we had remaining before reaching our destination and doing our best to annoy our older siblings in as innocent a fashion as possible. Our arms would be sore from playing Slug-Bug and our throats would be raw from the stifled laughter produced by inside jokes. We'd sing the songs learned from Sesame Street and The Electric Company as well as theme songs and commercial jingles.
For me, getting there was half the fun.
Once we arrived at Aunt Jan's place we'd stretch our cramped legs, run around like wild Indians for a bit and then immediately look for Aunt Jan's dog, Toby. I always got some secret delight from the fact that this little poodle shared a name with my oldest brother. Poor Toby (the dog, not the brother) would usually be cowering in the corner beneath the couch, not looking forward to our visit. Aunt Jan would have him all dressed up in a striped sweater and finally he'd come crawling out, resigning himself to his fate over the next few days.
I don't recall any specific dishes that were prepared but I do remember that mom and Aunt Jan would spend hours in the kitchen preparing our feast while we played outside in her yard. When we were called in to eat the aroma of turkey and stuffing blended with potatoes and hot rolls was intoxicating. I also remember there being such an exorbitant amount of food covering the table that I'd wonder whether we would be able to actually sit around it.
Well, times have certainly changed, but most things remain the same. We now occasionally cram our family of 11 into our suburban with an ice chest full of snacks to enjoy on long trips. Our kids sit in the back and sing songs, play traveling games and try to annoy their siblings in a way that allows them to feign innocence. When we reach our destination we all pile out and enjoy the freedom from the car's confinement. There is still too much food and plenty of visiting... but no Toby in his striped sweater (the dog, not the brother).
Memories, road trips, family, good times, food, laughter...
There is much to be thankful for - and not only at Thanksgiving.