Another Thanksgiving has been marked off the calendar. The frenzy of preparation seems all out of proportion with how quickly the day goes by. Yet that frenzy, for me, is such an important part of the holiday.
It reminds me of years past, when I was a kid and the entire family would gather at my grandmother’s house on the holidays. Getting ready days before – cleaning, cooking, baking – helped to increase the anticipation. And, more recently, when I would work alongside my grandmother and mother to prepare for the festivities – helping with shopping, mixing the food, cleaning the house – I was able to be an active participant.
The number of family members gathering in one place has decreased significantly over the years. I can remember when 50 people would come through the house on a holiday. I’d get to see and play with my cousins – 1st cousins and even 3rd cousins. As we got older, we no longer played. Instead, we watched their children play while we reminisced about when we were that young.
Now, though, we don’t all gather together anymore. I haven’t seen some of my cousins in years. It seems like we only see each other at weddings and funerals these days. A testament, perhaps, to growing older.
This year, like the last three years, I went to my aunt’s for Thanksgiving dinner. All of her kids and grandkids converge on her house…and I get to join them. Since Mom passed away, I’m my aunt’s 7th child and I’m included in all gatherings. But I did something a little different this year.
After dinner with my aunt’s family, I drove to my cousin’s house to gather with them, as well. These are my uncle’s kids. My uncle passed away 6 years ago and they spent the holidays with their mother. She passed away early this year, so they gathered together at my cousin’s. I was invited to stop by…so I did.
In one day, I saw more than half of my 1st cousins. It almost brought me back to my childhood. When we were all together and shared our stories of school and friends and crushes. Of course, now we talk about things like home improvements, jobs, politics, and menopause. Now my cousins’ kids are getting engaged and having kids of their own.
Of course, there was also mention of how nice it was to be together. To have fun with each other again. How much we missed it.
It’s just too bad that I had to go to two different holiday gatherings in two different locations to experience it.
Hopefully we will ALL be able to gather again. All in one place. All at the same time. Not at a wedding or a funeral. But because we want to share space with each other. Just…because.
Perhaps if we all want it badly enough, we can make it happen.