Today in My History
Travel and Tourism
Cast (updated 7/16)
THANKSGIVING THRU THE YEARS
November 18, 2020
With Thanksgiving coming up, and having to decide how we do a coronavirus Thanksgiving, I've been thinking about the Thanksgivings throughout my life.
I can tell this was Thanksgiving 1996 because David's not in it. David had died in May and I realized we had never taken a whole family picture. In this picture are Walt, me, Tom, my mother, Walt's sister and her husband and in front Paul, Vince (our student from Malaysia), Olivia (married to Walt's brother Norm), their mother, and Norm. Ned and Marta must have had Thanksgiving with her family, since they aren't in the picture.
In my early childhood years, my mother and my grandmother (my father's mother) split the holidays. Nannie had Thanksgiving and my mother did Christmas. Thanksgiving was always the same. They had a small apartment (living room, dining room and kitchen, with Murphy beds that folded into the wall in both rooms). We sat in the living room before dinner. The adults had high balls (bourbon and ginger ale), Karen and I had ginger ale, and my grandmother passed around a bowl of Cheetos. My godfather (my grandfather's brother Fred), who was divorced, always joined us. I don't remember much about dinner. I'm pretty sure we had turkey, though my grandmother didn't like stuffing, so I don't know what we had with it. But after dinner there was always that box of See's candy that Fred always brought to be passed around.
Eventually the big Thanksgiving dinner got to be too much for her and my mother did both holiday dinners. There were the same people...
...but we often added some of my mother's family if they were around. My aunt lived next door to us, for example, and for a bit my mother's mother lived with her, so they joined us. We also had other aunts if they were in the city.
After Walt and I married, his mother and sometimes his sister and brother joined my family for the holiday dinners. We were very lucky that we never had to chooses between his family and my family and that both families got along so well.
I'm not sure when Walt's mother bought the condo at Lake Tahoe, but it was suggested that we have Thanksgiving there one year. It was perfect. because nobody lived there, dinner was potluck and it worked out so well, we had Thanksgiving there for several years.
There was no expectation of anything fancy except for the paper turkey that we bought for the centerpiece, which we used, year after year until it finally fell apart.
Walt's mother cooked the turkey and the rest of us brought all the rest of the food. It was all Walt's family because when my mother remarried her husband's family became "the" family. She could never have a holiday with us because she had to be with his family. (I should note that his family never invited us to anything, not even the special birthday party they threw for her at a winery, which she told me was so wonderful. Bitter? Who me?)
Those Tahoe Thanksgivings were so special. Playing games and cards during the day, having dinner, including my pumpkin pie and Tom's Baked Alaska, which he learned how to make. Then there was charades, which we all loved, especially laughing as Grandma Sykes tried to remember not to speak.
After my mother's husband died, she joined us for a Thanksgiving or two, such as the picture above the year David died. The year Paul died, I couldn't bring myself to go to Tahoe and we never had Thanksgiving up there again because the altitude started being a problem for Walt's mother.
After David's and Paul's deaths, Ned's and Tom's marriages, my mother's dementia, which made it difficult for her to be in crowds, etc, we have had no routine for the holidays any more. We even had Thanksgiving dinner at Marta's family's one year.
And this is the coronavirus Thanksgiving, with no possibility of anything traditional.
But when we give thanks, I give thanks for all the pleasant memories I have of a lifetime of thanksgivings, a lifetime of family harmony, a lifetime of turkey stuffing and pumpkin pie. And I give thanks that Ned and Marta live here, so we at least have some of the family to celebrate with. It may be uncomfortable not to be able to invite anybody to be with us for this holiday, but it's a small sacrifice to pay and hope that next year can be a riotous celebration of no more coronavirus.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
How to do a family picture. 2015
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This is entry #7544