Ready to Board the Gravy Train

It’s that time of year when families around the country pile into the sleigh (whoops, van) and head off to the relatives for a few days of feasting and merriment.  Whether you travel long distances or just across town, most likely you have certain holiday traditions.  In our family, we always have certain items on the menu for Thanksgiving.  There is always turkey except for one disastrous year when we reserved a honey-baked ham and then realized at a Thanksgiving Eve service (around 8:30 pm) that we had forgotten to pick it up), jellied cranberry sauce (none of that whole berried stuff, thank you very much), mashed potatoes, green-bean casserole, dressing (or as our pastor said in church Sunday…..by the 3rd helping, you call it “stuffing”), sweet potato casserole that tastes more like dessert than a vegetable by the time I’m done with it, and pumpkin pie. Whew!  How’s THAT for a run-on sentence?

Our extended family always exchanges our Christmas presents at Thanksgiving and that way we can enjoy each other’s reactions to the gifts in person.  Lest you think that’s being mercenary, it’s not.  You see, a lot of our gifts involve inside jokes and thus, there is always a lot of laughing and carrying on when we open presents.

We always take the family Christmas portrait during our visit together.  That, in itself, can be quite the ordeal (or endurance event) as the case may be.  Just trying to get everyone gathered in one spot is challenging.  It’s also been challenging to catch everyone in a good mood especially when the kids were smaller.  Then there is always a family prankster who decides to do “rabbit-ears” or other unmentionable things just when the shutter snaps.  Oy!

This year, I’ve baked some cookies to take with me and I’ve finished wrapping all of my presents.  They’re sitting on the piano bench ready to be loaded into the car.  I hope I haven’t forgotten anything.  I’ve also started a list to refer to tomorrow because we are taking Toto this year and I’ll have some extra things to put in the car.  She apparently knows that something is up because she’s been sticking extra-close today.  I hope the poor dear doesn’t think that we’re heading off to drop her with someone else.  It’s SO hard for me not to assign human emotions and thoughts to my pets.  That’s why I’m terrible when I have to got off on a trip and leave them in someone else’s care.  I always feel like they won’t understand why “Mommy” has disappeared/abandoned them, even though I know that I’ll be back.  But how do you explain that to them?  Well, I digress.

I’m ready to put my feet up now and contemplate the fun that we’ll soon be having when we all get together.  However, there is a bittersweet note to all of this.  Each year, as our grown kids have married and moved away, it seems that it is harder and harder to get them all together for our annual Thanksgiving time.  Our group seems to be getting smaller and smaller.  My mum will once again have to stay behind at the nursing home.  I’m like the proverbial mother hen.  I want to have all of my “chicks” in one spot.  But thanks to Skype, we’ll be able to chat with our more extended family on Turkey Day and for that, I’m thankful.

From our family to yours, have a blessed Thanksgiving.  I hope it is filled with laughter, good food, and many opportunities for making memories that will last a lifetime.

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