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Beacon Senior News

Families change, but Thanksgiving never will

Oct 26, 2020 12:18PM ● By Lynn Walker Gendusa
thanksgiving family memories

The last picture taken of “the family that was” on Thanksgiving. Terminal cancer took my brother, pictured center, in April the following year.

I love Thanksgiving Day for many reasons. When I was small, I remember Mama worrying over her turkey being too dry and exclaiming, “I just can’t get my cornbread dressing right!” Year after year, my brother John complained about the food because he never liked anything on the table but the mashed potatoes. I have special memories of my dad sneaking another piece of pecan pie, and all of us laughing when Mama caught him. 

Those were the youthful Thanksgivings when I sat in front of the television watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and patiently waited for Santa Claus to come on screen. Christmas was ushered in amid the aroma of turkey, apple pie and sweet potato souffle wafting through the house. 

For this little girl, Thanksgiving was the pinnacle of happiness!

Once I became a mother myself, our extended families would gather on Thanksgiving, where a children’s table was added. We traveled to each other’s homes bearing pecan pies for Dad, diaper bags for babies and still declaring that Mama’s cornbread dressing was fine.

In those days, I never really thought about Thanksgiving changing or a time when I would long to see some of those folks again in the future. It’s those days when God protects us from viewing tomorrow and allows us just to enjoy the day. 

As the years flew by, Thanksgivings did change. I have a photograph taken of my entire family gathered at my home on Thanksgiving. My parents, John and his family, plus my children, smiled as they turned toward the camera. By then, I was divorced, and all the children were grown. The aroma of roasting turkey, sweet potatoes and Mama’s “not quite right” dressing still filled the air and warmed the soul.

It was the last picture taken of the family that was. Terminal cancer took my brother in April the following year. I was very grateful we celebrated that Thanksgiving together.

Eighteen months after John died, my father joined him two days before another Thanksgiving. Afterward, the children scattered across the country, and while all would come home for Christmas, they rarely flew in for Thanksgiving. In the years that followed, there often would be only two or three folks around my table. But Mama and I were thankful we had the memories of good times and would laugh at the thought of Heaven having to make all those pecan pies and mashed potatoes for Dad and my brother. 

Then one Thanksgiving Mama didn’t complain about her dressing. I figure an angel taught her how to finally “make it right.” Dad and John were glad when she was able to join them on a heavenly Thursday in November.

We all witness the ever-changing face of family over the years. We mourn the loss of days when we celebrated the holidays with those who are now gone. We often yearn for the past, but today I am thankful knowing I was blessed to have once sat at a table with those fine folks. 

Now on Thanksgiving, I never know who might join us around the table. We could serve a turkey for two or 20. There is one thing about life that is certain; you never know with God in charge what a new day can bring. 

This year, my husband, along with two of my three children, my stepchildren, and three grandchildren, will gather here. The children will watch the Macy’s parade on television, and shouts of joy will erupt when Santa heralds in the Christmas season. I need to start the ovens, gather the yams and pull out the pecan pie recipe. I will worry over the turkey in the oven and I will fret over the dressing being just right. However, I do know those babies love mashed potatoes! 

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