This Time a While Ago

This time of year, a while ago, my sister and I would be cleaning house like crazy, getting ready for the company to come for Thanksgiving. My mother was world famous for catching bits of dust we might have missed. How? I have no earthly idea! She could catch a speck of dust that God couldn’t even see. No kidding!  My sister and I actually worked pretty good together, as I remember. Now, that may be a wishful memory, I don’t know. But , the crux of the matter was, we just wanted to get the housework done so we could do our own thing. For me, that was playing any  sort of thing. I loved games. Yahtzee (which I still love), cards, Risk, Monopoly , oh and Scrabble. Anyway, I digress.

While my sister (Martha) and I didn’t like cleaning the house, the only thing we really hated to do was clean up the backyard after the dog. EWWW. Neither of us were big into cleaning up the dog poop. But, we wanted the dog, so it was our job.

Martha and I shared a room-especially if there were people who would be spending the night.I have to admit, her side of the room was always neater than mine. Well, we all have our flaws.

My favorite thing to do was vacuum. I don’t know- it was some kind of thrill to hear the bits go into the vacuum cleaner bag. Like, it was proof things were actually getting cleaned.

My mother, about this time of the week would have written everyone’s name down on the back of an envelope who would be attending the Thanksgiving dinner. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, babies. You name it, they were on it. She also would have a different envelope in which she had the menu. All the delicacies we would be eating was on that envelope. We had a big people table and a little people table. If one was unfortunate as to have to eat at the little people table even after reaching the age of the big people table, it was just too bad. Our family was huge and if you had a place, you were lucky to get it.

Although Mother had to work everyday, she stayed up late working out the details of the dinner down to the minute. I don’t know how she did it, but every item of the dinner was ready at the same time the other things were.I am not that coordinated in my culinary abilities to be able to achieve that feat. I am just not that person, I guess. She could have given me that talent in the gene pool, but maybe I was standing behind the door when it was passed out.

Not only did Mother work out the details, but she had time for a bit of television and Bible study. She studied her Bible every night and knew more than I will ever know about the Bible. She would wake my dad, who would be sleeping in the chair and say, “Paul, Paul, let’s go to bed.” She had this tone to her voice that she only ever had when she was tired and ready for bed. Or, when she was telling him in the night to turn over because he was snoring.

So, off to bed she would go just to get up and start it all over again. And our job?  Mine and Martha’s? To keep the house clean until after Thanksgiving.

Come Thanksgiving day, of course, Martha, Barbie (my oldest sister, now deceased) and I would wait anxiously for the guests to arrive. We always knew who would be first to arrive and who would be woefully late -holding up the dinner. Mother always said we would eat at noon, sometimes, one o’clock. Invariably, we ate at one at the latest. If anyone would have the audacity to show up after one, they would find themselves having to eat after we got started.

Every year, we’d sit at that very same dark wood dining room table and tell the same stories and laugh as if they were brand new. It was the funniest thing ever how last year’s and the year before that and the year before that memories got such huge laughs every single year.

The memory I hated the most was told so many times that if it had been cute when I said it, it wasn’t any longer. And never would be again. To this day, I hate that memory still. What was it? Well, my mother had a habit of calling each girls name when she wanted one of us. If she wanted me, it would be “BarMarPaula” One day, I got aggravated that she did that and said, “Oh! Just call me Suzy!” Whoop. I just can’t conjure up even a grin when I think of it. Brother.


This photo is of one of the smaller reunions. My niece was just lucky she got to sit at the big people table!

Do you have an unfavorite memory of Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear it.



I’m not sure how to feel about the holidays coming up. No, I didn’t misspell my title. I feel weird about them tonight. I guess I am feeling some sort of identity crisis- maybe I’ve lost whatever I thought the holidays are supposed to be.

You see, growing up, my house (well, my mom and dad’s house) was full  of relatives. Thanksgiving? My mom’s family over for dinner, which was always at noon-one o’clock should there be late-comers. (there were always latecomers.) After my mom’s family left, the next day or so , my dad’s family would come. Maybe not for dinner, but at least to visit. Needless to say, I’ve always associated the holidays with a full house of family and friends.

Last night, my husband found a video of a Christmas spent, as usual, with my mother. Just our family- my family of origin and our extended families around the Christmas  tree. My four grandsons-still just little boys, my daughter and her husband, Sean (now deceased, sadly), my sister and her family and my mother. How wonderfully bittersweet it was to see everyone together. There was my mother, complaining about having her photo on the video and Sean saying the new jacket would fit if he could lose ten pounds. No one was aggravated, there was lots of laughter, it was great to hear their voices again and see their faces. It was a reminder to me that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I have felt pretty solemn since I saw the video. All of us laughing, having fun, being surprised – just being a family. We were oblivious to anything bad or sad. Within about two years of that video,,my husband’s mother and  my mother went to be with the Lord and then so did Sean. Our family forever changed.

Now, I have my kids, all married- going their own way this Thanksgiving – and I’m happy they are able to do that. So, it will be me, Stephen and Father Charlie this year for Thanksgiving. Maybe David will  come. I hope so. Even though it is family, I’m a bit dazed and confused since the house will not be full to the brim. I am so thankful, though that each of my children have spouses who love them and feel good about being able to go to their other family’s houses for Thanksgiving.

What a great time to find a long lost video- just as we all celebrate our gratitude, I was able to see and hear the voices of those I loved so much. While I am celebrating my living family members, I will celebrate the fact that God gave me other people who have gone on to His house before me.

So, while you are celebrating gratitude, remember to tell your family and friends how much they mean to you-how much you love them. I don’t think we can ever say it too much. Happy thanksgiving!