Thursday, November 28, 2013
On this date, November 28, 2013, we celebrate Thanksgiving. As we grow, there are many traditions made, and some traditions are broken. Growing up in the State of Georgia, my family taught me many traditions during the holidays, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays were for family. I recall celebrating Thanksgiving with my maternal grandparents. Although when I was little, I often was curious why my maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents did not come together for the holidays. Later, I discovered how strange our families were and I did my best to welcome all of my relatives.
I remember my maternal grandmother always prepping, baking and cooking for the holidays. Our table was filled with most of the foods we celebrate and gobble down a bit too quickly. We always had a country ham, turkey, homemade biscuits that felt and tasted like a cloud and I recall eating too many of them. OK…so homemade biscuits are my weakness, and that is why I do not make them! Additional foods included cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, Southern potato salad, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and of course, we had a variety of desserts. My grandmother was a great Southern cook, so you can just imagine all of the food we ate. Another tradition we shared was always saying the blessing at the dinner table. Joining hands, we would ask my dad or grandfather to lead us into prayer.
Some traditions must be preserved, and that is why when Phil and I eat at the dining room table, or at the breakfast table, I always remind him we must ‘say grace.’ Phil did not grow up with that family tradition, and the more I discover about his family, the more I recognize that his family was more estranged than mine could ever be. His mother did not cook a Thanksgiving turkey or dinner. His mother said she hated turkey because it was dry. She changed her mind when tasting mine! After moving to Charleston, I went to the trouble of inviting Phil’s family for Thanksgiving Dinner; however, after the way his mother behaved, I was a bit annoyed with her. Just picture it. As the cook for the Thanksgiving Dinner you are tired. For many days you have prepped the foods, thawed the turkey and prepared it. Baked. Cooked. Cleaned the dishes. Dressed the dining room table with your finest linens, china, candles and all the fun things I enjoy doing for the holidays, only to be told — perhaps in a dictatorial tone — that you are hungry and want to eat…NOW!
I asked Phil if I could speak to him privately, letting him know I was furious that his mother was so demanding. He shook his head, refusing to speak with his mother. I returned to the kitchen, letting his mother know I had some peanut butter and bread and if she wanted to EAT NOW…she could fix a peanut butter sandwich. She growled at me… “Just give me a paper plate and I’ll dig in…”
“You’ll do no such a thing. Dinner isn’t ready!”
That was the last Thanksgiving I shared with Phil’s mother. New traditions were made, in hopes we as a family could teach our child that holidays were family days and were not to be dictatorial.
Now, our son is married, building new traditions with his wife and child. As for us, I still prepare a Thanksgiving meal, and I dress the dining room table with china, a lace tablecloth, and candles and we take the time to enjoy our meal. Occasionally, I invite our friends over but as life has a way, most people have plans for the holidays.
A new tradition we started two years ago is to decorate our Christmas tree on the weekend of Thanksgiving. Last year, I was so sick with acute bronchitis I did not feel like cooking Thanksgiving, although I did. Weak and exhausted by dinner time, I did something I rarely do. I asked Phil to help with the clean up. That weekend he put the tree up. When I asked him to help with the decorating he grumbled, so like his mother —
“I HATE decorating the tree…”
I gathered the decorations and with tears in my eyes, I decorated the tree. Exhausted, I went to bed, furious with Phil and his hatred for the holidays.
This year, I’ve let him know how his cold, and demeaning words hurt me last year. There I was as sick and as weak I could be, and all he cared about was watching his stupid football games! How dare him! Never did he consider how sick I was and how hard I worked to keep the traditions going.
Traditions are important to me, and they should be for everyone, especially at the holidays. Much to my surprise, Phil has mentioned twice that we are decorating the Christmas tree this weekend. Sometimes I cannot help wondering just who is this strange man I married. His moods change quicker than the winds!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We are sharing it with friends, and on Friday, I am cooking a Thanksgiving meal at home. After all, some traditions need to continue. Since early marriage I have cooked the Thanksgiving meal. That tradition must continue. Additional traditions will continue, and a few will change. We have a family of four-legged children to celebrate the holidays with. This year, all of them — Shasta Daisy Shampagne, our 12-year-old, frail Maltese will probably share her last Thanksgiving with us. She has seizures now. Until last evening, the last was three weeks ago. Our pet sitter describes her as a frail, little old lady most comfortable in her rocking chair. Only for Shasta, she is most comfortable curled on a pillow with her blanket at my desk. Last night’s seizure scared us and I prayed, “Please God, let her live just one more Thanksgiving!” She made it through the night, and she is curled at my feet now. Thank you, God!
Our other children are Shakespeare Hemingway, a salt and pepper mini-schnauzer, Sandy Bear Sebastian, a blonde mini-schnauzer, Sir Hankster the Prankster, a smaller mini-schnauzer who grumbles and grumbles and grumbles… Our youngest is our biggest, a giant wiry schnauzer named Prince Midnight Shadow. We adopted him from a shelter last year after my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus crossed Rainbow Bridge. All of these precious children will enjoy a taste of Thanksgiving this Friday with us. Yesterday, the rescue I volunteer for requested for us to consider fostering a pup from a kill shelter. Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas needs fosters willing to help these little guys adjust to a life away from kill shelters and crates. At first, I thought “No, I cannot do this again.” If you recall, my last foster was Sweet Little Cleet…Cleet…the Pup Who Ran Away, But Came Back! I confess, I fell in love with Sweet Cletus and hated to let him go when he was adopted. I am happy to report he is progressing ever so slowly with his new parents. It has been a long process for him to forget the abuse he tolerated as a puppy mill stud, but now, he has a caring family who do everything they can to give him a life filled with love and tender care. Together, Cletus, now named “Little Buddy” and his family are taking baby steps. Baby steps leads to independence and trust, and I look forward to the day when I hear that Little Buddy is now a changed guy!
I am happy to announce, Phil has agreed to take in another foster – a Maltese. So now, this Thanksgiving, even though we do not have the newest foster in our household, we have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2013. This year I have good health again! We are still together in this marriage. We have love and peace in our world at home. We are thankful for our soldiers who are away this year, and we are hopeful they return home safely, soon. We are thankful for our grandchild, William; and we are thankful and so appreciative of our good friends. May we all have a toast for Thanksgiving, and may we all give thanks to God for another Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your special day!