Thanksgiving: Then and Now

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and the Christmas season is officially under way.

I’m an early riser, even on weekends, so that’s when I do most of my reading, thinking, contemplating about various things, and writing my blog. Like a lot of people my age (65), I got to reflecting on how much Thanksgiving has changed during my lifespan.

 My earliest childhood memories of Thanksgiving was of my mother cooking a turkey all night long, having to get up during the night to check on it. Then she was up early making and cooking the dressing and all the other things typically made for a Thanksgiving meal.

My grandmother, and sometimes my aunts and uncles, would come. Sometimes the meal was at my grandmothers. But regardless of where we had the meal, me being the youngest of all the kids, I remember always being delegated to the card table, bar, or kitchen table to eat. Sometimes, we kids didn’t eat until after the grown-ups ate because there just wasn’t enough tables and chairs for us all to eat at the same time. But that was okay, because the adults obviously got more out of the meal than us kids.

Thanksgiving OldThen after the meal, all the adults would just sit around and talk, maybe play cards or dominoes. We kids would typically go outside or find something to do to entertain ourselves. There was no rush. This was a holiday and everyone just enjoyed the day. Since it was a holiday, all stores were closed, so there was no thought about getting a jump on Christmas and going shopping.

Like most families, as we all started getting older, Thanksgiving started being just our immediate family. Not much changed though. My mother still went through her routine of cooking the turkey all night and making all the goodies to go with it. But now that we kids were growing up, getting married, and having children of our own, we all shared in bringing food. By then, football on Thanksgiving had become a tradition. So after stuffing our bellies with a ridiculous amount of food, we guys would head for the television and the football game. To be honest with you, I really don’t remember what all the girls did after eating except for sitting around talking. Then after the game, it was time for us to eat again, even though we couldn’t possibly be hungry.

That was Thanksgiving. It was all about family, food, football and everybody just relaxing.

Now that we are older with extended families of our own, we have carried on this same tradition. My wife cooks the turkey and makes most of the meal, and all the kids bring their favorite dishes. We all pig out, get miserable, and sit around for a while, keeping an eye on the football game of course.

We have extended our Thanksgiving tradition to include setting up our Christmas tree and letting the kids decorate the tree. I put on my Christmas music mix, my wife pulls out all the boxes of ornaments we have collected during our forty years of marriage, and I sit back and take pictures while our three grownup boys and their wives return to being just kids again. Now that we have two grandchildren as well, I hope they remember these times as fondly as I remember mine.

I know my brother, sister and their families have also carried on the traditions from our childhood and added some new traditions of their own. Just goes to show what influence a great mother has on her children.

That was what it was like before Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and stores open on holidays with Christmas decorations up and Christmas music playing 24 x 7 — prior to Thanksgiving. Our holidays have become super-commercialized. Thanksgiving is no longer about Thanksgiving and just relaxing with family. It’s about when the stores will open with their special deals, designed to lure you into their stores to start buying Christmas gifts now, and kicking off a full month of in-your-face marketing and sales leading up to Christmas.

It’s Thanksgiving, so Merry Christmas!

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving: Then and Now

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