As I am preparing things for our trip to Kansas for the Thanks Giving week, I can’t help thinking in my mind that this will be my first Thanks Giving without my mother. While I have come to the realization that she is gone, it seems like the Holidays bring up those memories again, and I have to admit that it isn’t easy.
My mom’s side of the family is huge, with two brothers, two sisters, and all of my cousins and their kids, it’s a big family. Thanks Giving was always held at my Grandma and Grandpa Sunday’s house, the house that Grandpa built when I was very young. As a kid I didn’t realize all of the effort it took to put on a big gathering like that, but Grandma and the rest of the family made it seem like just another day at the Sunday’s. It was always a big deal, and back then football wasn’t the focus of Thanks Giving, it was family.
I never did make it to the Adult’s table for the big dinner; there were too many people ahead of me. But I had lots of cousins at the kid’s table over the years; kids to throw jello at, and bicker over trivial things as cousins do. At the time I didn’t realize the value of that time with my family, but I certainly do now. We were all there on those holidays, a big family, together.
For the kids, we couldn’t wait to eat our food and get down stairs to play pool, on the pool table that Grandpa built himself. It was a nice full-sized pool table, made of birch wood, with a taught green field of felt, and tight pockets. I don’t know how Grandpa knew how to build so many things, but this pool table was another one of his wonders that left an impression on me. And Uncle George would always come down after about fifteen minutes to supervise us kids, enforcing the rule that anyone who left a blue mark on the ceiling from a cue tip owed him a quarter. Of course we didn’t have a quarter to pay him, it was his way of keeping us under some measure of control.
As a kid, Thanks Giving was all about those memories with family. As I grew older, and moved away due to my time in the Air Force, that family aspect was lost, never to be seen again in my life time. But maybe this year when Kyle and I go back to Kansas for Thanks Giving, we can experience some of what I knew, even though we are all older now.
The feeling of family really never goes away. While this year will be without Mom, she will be there with us in our hearts and in spirit. But as a family, we are still one, a family. We lose some, and we gain some. Generations come and go, and now in my life we are on the third generation, which means I am next to go. And that’s OK, because there are generations to follow.