I love Thanksgiving! It’s a holiday without all the commercialism of Christmas, and one where families and friends come together to renew relationships over plentiful food and hearts filled with thanks for another year together. Or, at least that’s the way it used to be, but now days maybe not so much as in the past. Perhaps we boomers are the last generation to grow up amid large families where there was never a question as to where you would be on Thanksgiving because all vehicles headed to Grandma’s house.
My grandparents had nine children as did many couples of that generation, and we kids of the 50’s and 60’s grew up spending holidays at big family gatherings. Those childhood memories of aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins of multiple generations coming together down in the Toro woods are precious. It was a time of delicious food, and a day for playing as we swung from ropes in the hayloft, climbed trees and nearly killed each other on a homemade flying jenny (anybody else remember these)? While the women cooked and cleaned up afterward, the men gathered on the front porch rocking or sitting in cowhide-bottom straight back chairs leaned back against the wall. Us young folks also took breaks from playing to sit enthralled listening to all the stories that Grandpa and uncles would tell about hunting, throwing cherry bombs and snakes in the outhouse while it was occupied, and other yarns that entertained us. The feasting, joking, story-telling and family interacting would go on all day until evening darkness brought out the lighting bugs we would catch and put in glass jars, our version of flash lights. No one thought anything of us running barefoot in the dark, knowing full well we were sharing territory with poisonous snakes. Ah, precious memories.
Then as a married adult with young children of my own, we made plans to attend Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws as well as with my family. It was just understood that if physically possible we would be there. My mother and mother-in-law arranged to accommodate schedules so we could go to both places at different times. Married to a fireman meant that sometimes I had to pack the kids up and drive south without my husband, but I did it because I wanted Daniel and Phaedra to have what their daddy and I had … a tradition of family coming together and strengthening bonds, sharing our lives with each other, and teaching the value of homecoming.
Of course age changes some things, and there came a time when my grandparents moved from their country home on a red dirt road surrounded by piney woods into a mobile home near one of my aunts. Thus, JR and I offered our home for Thanksgiving, and that first time we had 36 family members attend. We didn’t have a big barn for the kids to risk their necks swinging from, but JR prepared a wagon for a hayride with special seating for my grandparents. He also built wood plank tables nailed to oak trees by our house just like country churches did for “dinner-on-the-ground”. Our big carport substituted for a front porch, and while the women prepared the food, the men gathered in lawn chairs and told tales, and I noticed that some of the nephews and nieces hung around listening to the stories just as my generation did when we were their age. After an amazing feast cooked by women who knew their way around a stove, we, (kids, cousins, aunts and uncles) played volleyball which left some of the older people with bruises and bumps, but it was a fun day of bonding, sharing and a homecoming for family members who had grown up and lost touch as so many of us do.
I hear people saying that their kids and grand’s don’t come “home” for Thanksgiving much anymore. They take cruises or go to the beach or they think fixing meals for a crowd is too much trouble or they don’t want to clean their house for guests or they are too tired or … so many excuses. I’m not the only one of my age group to be saddened by this because we want our grandchildren to experience what we did. There seems to be a preception that there is a different attitude among some of the younger generations, and yes, we know we are old-fashioned as demonstrated recently when I went in Best Buy to buy a VCR Player to play some old home movies on, and the young men working there thought it was hilarious. Apparently nobody sells VCR’s anymore. Another woman my age told me that she asked a salesgirl where the “cream rinse” was, and she was told, “Probably in the dairy case with the milk.” We know our values are scorned by some of the techno whiz kids, and that when our generation dies out the world will be a totally different place.
BUT, until then there are still families who don’t question where they will be on Thanksgiving, and I’m happy to say that one of them is the Marze family. Although I wasn’t able to make it this year, most of the Marzes still got together forThanksgiving. Inez and Luther Marze did something right raising their kids because they come together as a family, hold hands and say grace thanking Almighty God for bringing them home again. Though Pawpaw Marze is only there in spirit and memories these days, Mamaw Marze is blessed that most of her children, grand’s, and great-grand’s come home to renew the familial bond, share hugs and get to know the newer, by birth or marriage, family members … and tell stories, play on ATV’s, have shooting contests and generally have a great time. Don’t let’s forget all the delicious food for the feasting either. Hoping your Thanksgiving is blessed and perhaps, a little old-fashioned.