The pinnacle of Thanksgiving happiness

Published 4:33 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Hard to believe it is Thanksgiving again. I hope all of you have a beautiful day and consume mounds of morsels.  Then I will not feel so guilty. 

I always loved Thanksgiving for many reasons. When I was small, it was a time when mama worried over her turkey being too dry and would exclaim, “I just can’t get my cornbread dressing right!” It was a day when my brother complained about the food because he never liked anything on the table but the mashed potatoes. It was those special Thursdays when my dad sneaked another piece of pecan pie, and we all laughed when mama caught him.

Those were the youthful Thanksgiving days when I sat in front of the television watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and patiently waited for Santa Claus to come on the screen. Christmas was being ushered in amid the aroma of turkey, apple pie and sweet potato soufflé wafting through the house. For this little girl, that was the pinnacle of happiness.

Once I became a mother myself, Thanksgiving was still one of my favorite holidays. Our family would gather, and in a few years, a children’s table was added. We traveled to each other’s homes bearing pecan pies for dad, diaper bags for babies, and still declaring mama’s cornbread dressing was fine.

In those days I never really thought about Thanksgiving changing or a time when I would long to see some of those folks again on a Thursday in the future. I think it is those days when God protects us from viewing tomorrow and allows us just to enjoy the day.

However, tomorrows become today, and as the years flew by, Thanksgivings did change. I have a photograph taken on a Thanksgiving Thursday of my entire family gathered at my home. My parents, my brother and his family, plus my children smiled as they turned toward the camera.  By then I was divorced, and all the children were grown. The aroma of roasting turkey, sweet potatoes and mama’s dressing still filled the air and warmed the soul.

It was the last picture taken of the family that was, and we knew it would be. Terminal cancer would take my brother by April of the following year. I was very grateful we celebrated that Thanksgiving together.

Eighteen months after my brother’s death, my father joined him two days before another Thanksgiving Thursday. Afterward, the children scattered across the country and all would come home for Christmas in the years that followed but rarely flew back for Thanksgiving.

During the next few years, there often would be two or three folks around my Thanksgiving table, but mama and I were thankful we had the memories of good times and would laugh at the thought of heaven having to make all those pecan pies and mashed potatoes.

Then one Thanksgiving mama didn’t complain about her dressing. I figure an angel taught her how to finally “make it right” and dad and John were glad she was joining them on a heavenly Thursday in November. We all witness the ever-changing face of family over the years.

We mourn the loss of those days we celebrated the holidays with those who are now gone, and we often yearn for the past. However, I have found joy and thankfulness in knowing that I was blessed to be able to have once sat at a table with these fine folks. 

Now on Thanksgiving, I never know who might join us around the table. We could serve a turkey for two or 20. There is one thing about life that is certain — you never know with God in charge what a new day can bring.

This year, my husband along with two of my three children, my stepchildren and three grandchildren will gather here. The children will watch a parade on the television and shouts of joy will erupt when Santa ushers in Christmas. I need to start the ovens, gather the yams and pull out the pecan pie recipe. I will worry over the turkey being too dry and will fret over the dressing being “just right.” However, I do know those babies love mashed potatoes.

Family can change but Thanksgiving never will. How blessed we all are with those who have once graced our tables and for those who will join us on a special Thursday in November.

I will give thanks for a God who likes to remind us that if he is welcomed to our table, we are never without family. 

For this old girl, knowing he is there is the pinnacle of happiness.