Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Past And Present

 

I don’t know the exact age when I started remembering family events, but it was probably when I was about five. Holidays were all spent at Grandma and Grandpa Baumann’s house which was only 10 minutes from our house. It was always there because they were my only set of grandparents. Our family wasn’t very big. There were only my grandparents, my parents, me, my aunt and uncle and two cousins. We always spent the major holidays together having a home made dinner. Easter was ham, Thanksgiving was Turkey and Christmas was German Sauerbraten with potato dumplings. Holiday meals were always served at noon even if the football game was on the TV. No TV tables, we all sat together around their dinning room table set with the “good dishes.” The men wore suits or sports coats and the women dresses and us in our Sunday church clothes.

Then came my high school years when I didn’t appreciate being with family as much as I should have. After a year of college I joined the Navy and spent four Thanksgiving’s and three Christmas’s over seas and away from family. You really don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Whoops, another cliché! But this one was true. My wife was in Japan with me for a year and one half and had to spend our first Thanksgiving alone, far from family and friends, while I was out to sea. There were some other Navy wives that lived near us so she had some company and they were all experiencing the same pain of being separated on a holiday. We did get to spend our first married Christmas together in Japan, but far from our parents in the states. We just kept telling ourselves we would spend the rest of our holidays together with our families.

This is another one of those, “you have to watch what you ask for.” November 1970 was our first Thanksgiving back in the states with our parents and we got more than we asked for. You know what’s coming, don’t you? You probably even experienced it. We had a complete turkey dinner at my parents house at noon and another one at my in-laws at five pm the same day. I’ve never been so full in my life. It took us a couple of years, but we did finally arrange a schedule so we wouldn’t be eating two holiday meals on the same day.

Jump ahead to Thanksgiving 2011. We have lost the grandparents and all but one parent and one aunt over the years, but we have gained a daughter and son-in-law with three grandchildren and a son and daughter-in-law with a grandchild. As they say life continues, the cycle goes on and we celebrate with different family members, but pretty much the same traditions. We have lost the German sauerbraten on Christmas along the way, but I might even try to bring that back this year.

I treasure all the memories of those past holidays, miss the relatives that have passed and only hope our children and grandchildren will have fond memories of the holidays we still celebrate together as family. Enjoy the day and make some memories. Happy Thanksgiving.