Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. As a single mom with two kids, Christmas was often (as in always) a struggle financially, but Thanksgiving the perfect holiday: family, friends, football, food. Who could ask for more?
When I was growing up, we would always spend Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house just outside Fordyce, Arkansas. It felt like fall there with leaves changing and the smell of the fireplaces. My aunts gave Grandma a tiny, tiny Sony color TV in the mid-60s. She kept it on the buffet in her dining room and I can see her in her apron standing in the doorway on Thanksgiving morning watching the Macy’s parade as she kept a close eye on whatever she was cooking.
Football was always a big part of our Thanksgiving and that meant watching the game and playing a little ourselves both as kids and adults. I can remember one year with my brother, sister and brother-in-law playing in Mother’s front yard in Arlington, boys against the girls. Bill hung his glasses on a tree branch, then promptly kicked the football through the tree and knocked his glasses to the ground. They didn’t break, but they no longer fit his face as they should. I was recovering from a back injury sustained in a car wreck a few months earlier
and this was supposed to be a touch game. Karyn through the ball to me, Bill tackled me…I fell to the ground and was unable to move. They just drug me off to the side and continued the game.
Another year the game was in my backyard. It was deemed the Mud Bowl because of playing conditions. I don’t think the grass was ever the same.
We don’t play football anymore but we do watch the Cowboys every year, even scheduling our “feast” time around game time/half time. We have a square board, hoping to be the lucky one with the correct score. We wear our finest game day apparel and root, root, root for our team.
As an Army family, we always invited those who couldn’t go home to our house even though circumstances have changed, there is always room for one more at our table. When we all lived close together, we traditionally had Easter at Bill and Becky’s, Thanksgiving at my house, Christmas Eve and my house, Christmas morning at my mom’s, Christmas dinner at Karyn and Bob’s house. One Thanksgiving everyone else had to work but Karyn. Bob and I had our full feast anyway: we wore our pajamas all day and ate on TV trays! It was great.
Of course I go overboard, just because that’s who I am. Yes, I have Thanksgiving dishes – don’t judge!
And the feast? Oh, what a feast we have! We call it holiday food because we have the same food at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I make the dressing, green bean casserole, English pea salad, kidney bean salad, Caesar salad, and homemade rolls. Karyn cooks the turkey, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes too sweet to eat – it makes my teeth hurt to think about them - and a table full of desserts. We have enough food to feed a small army and always have lots of leftovers.
This will be the first holiday season without Karyn. All of our hearts are broken but it’s a brave face for the little girls. My youngest said he will smoke a turkey and pick up pizza on the way for those who don’t care for holiday food. My nephew said his new girlfriend is a baker so he’ll bring pies.
As for the other things? I can mash potatoes, they’re just not as good as Karyn’s, and I can make gravy….but those sweet potatoes? They could just be a memory!