Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving

Yesterday, our first service worship leader Mark, was relating how Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday because it was the only one of the major religious holidays (Christmas and Easter being the other two) that hadn't been completely hijacked by crass secular materialism. There is no corresponding Santa Claus or Easter Bunny figure for the holiday and even the most non-religious person will, prior to indulging in the gluttonous feast, offer some words of "thanks". (to Whom? is the real question)

I do love Thanksgiving as well, but perhaps for a slightly different reason. Yes, I love the pure ectasy of eating turkey with all the trimmings and the pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top, but I also love the best sense of family that came with the holiday. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are of Thanksgivings long ago.

For more than half of my life, Thanksgiving meant putting extra leaves in the dining table either at my Grandmother's or in later years, our house. It meant the heavenly smells of my Grandmother's baking cornbread and biscuits in the days preceding so that she could make her cornbread stuffing. It meant walking around the Antelope Valley (where my grandparents lived) in the cold, crispy autumn air. But it also meant the odd assortment of relatives and guests that would arrive for this splendid feast - sometimes it was my mom's relatives, but mostly it was just my immediate family and the grandparents.

When the celebration moved to our house in Torrance, the place settings became more numerous, as my dad's sister and paternal grandmother where added along with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and other "orphaned" souls. I remember the first year that both my grandmothers were in the kitchen at the same time and how Grandma (paternal GM) was quizzing/challenging Grandmother (maternal GM) on all the whats and wherefores of her giblet gravy.

After my mother became sick, my younger sister assumed the mantle (still with deference to Grandmother's leadership) of cooking the Thanksgiving meal until she got married. With my mom gone and Grandmother in a nursing home with dementia, we lost our tradition for a while - even going to Grandma's or my dad's sister's was definitely not the same -until my sister divorced and subsequently bought her own home. She then again began hosting "The Big Meal", thinking nothing of inviting 20+ guests. She invites friends and friends of friends, family members and their family members that are no relation to us. It is different but she always pays homage to Thanksgivings of the past, sometimes intentionally by announcing that she's using Grandmother's recipe for stuffing or gravy. To the "real" family though there is a much more subtle reminder of our childhood Thanksgivings, Susie's dining room table and chairs were Grandmother's, the very one that we would put the extra leaves on Thanksgiving for all those years.

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