“I’m thankful for every moment.”—Al Green, singer and songwriter.
Thanksgiving 2017 is a memory now, leaving only 28 shopping days until Christmas. But, while there may still be just one piece of pecan pie left from Thanksgiving dinner, I’m still savoring the best part of the holiday season—the memories.
My blessings are many, and long is the list enumerating things for which I am thankful. However, conversation last week with a friend in Dallas prompted memories of one thing for which I am truly thankful—Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparent’s house as a child.
While wrapping up business via email with Wachelle Williams at Sunwest Communications, preparing for the short holiday week, she said something that resonated with me for the rest of the day.
“We are scheduled for next week! Yay…” her message read. I decided this was a good time to share that we also had another two weeks of our social media programs in the works beyond Thanksgiving. Her lighthearted reply was, “My grandmomma would say…’Stop showing out!’”
“I like your grandmomma’s sayings,” I told her. “Mine was a wise woman for someone whose education went only to the 8th grade. She had a large influence on my life.”
“Don’t you miss her,” Wachelle asked, commenting on memories of her grandmother, saying, “I really miss her cooking.” I agreed. Then for the rest of the day, all I could think about was holiday and Sunday dinners at my grandparent’s house.
Truthfully, any Sunday dinner prepared by my father’s mother was the equivalent of a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. She stopped preparing festive dinners when my grandfather died in 1967, but I remember her cooking like it was yesterday.
It was a yesterday when families ate more meals at home. The fast food boom was yet to happen, and eating out at a “real” restaurant was a treat for rare occasions. It was also a yesterday when, like for most families then, a meal at our home in Mount Pleasant was on the table precisely coordinated with dad’s arrival from work. Not being at the table at that time was not an option unless you were so badly incapacitated that walking was out of the question. Also not an option was deciding whether mom’s menu coincided with your taste buds. You ate what was on the table without criticism or comment—unless it was a comment praising mom’s cooking.
Although it was the age of “eat what your momma put on the table,” there was no way even the pickiest eater was going to leave granny’s table hungry on any day. The big table that occupied my grandmother’s dining room, and now resides in mine, was filled to capacity with choices. Common fare was fried chicken or ham, usually both. Every imaginable vegetable, salad and a casserole was there, along with hot rolls. If that wasn’t enough, the aroma of a fresh baked pie wafted from the kitchen as a reminder to save a little room.
The cooking was a labor of love, and meals were always on the table on time. That was no small feat for a Sunday dinner considering everyone at the Pittsburg Methodist Church knew my grandmother was really under the weather if she was not in her pew for worship service. That was a feat accomplished only by many hours spent in the kitchen Saturday night and early Sunday morning, something that never dawned on me as a child. I thought the meals were just another form of “grandmother’s magic.”
It was hard to notice behind the scenes work that our parents and grandparents put into family get togethers when, as kids, we were in the yard running through fall leaves and looking for pecans under huge trees that lined my grandfather’s yard. Smell is purported to be one of the strongest sensory preceptors linked to memory, and I know that it’s true. A whiff of leaves burning even today reminds me of raking and burning leaves in that same yard more than 50 years ago.
“Don’t you miss her,” Wachelle’s words echoed in my mind last week? I do miss her and I’m thankful for the memories of many Thanksgiving pasts she gave me. I’m also thankful for the values my grandparents and parents gave me regarding family traditions that have fashioned my Thanksgivings for a lifetime, and every moment of the memories I’m still making.
I hope your Thanksgiving was the best yet, and that you added many new memories of the season.
Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas, Light and Champion http://www.lightandchampion.com and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune newspapers https://www.tribnow.com