Way back in time, before Thanksgiving became football day and the prelude to “Black Friday”, I remember the holiday as feeling distinct and meaningful for its own sake. Our family usually participated in a “triad” of venues for celebrating the major holidays like Independence Day, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. The three places were the homes of the maternal grandparents, the paternal grandparents, and our home.
My fuzzy memories of Thanksgivings of decades past, paint scenarios worthy of Norman Rockwell. Today, on Thanksgiving, I feel fortunate that those old Thanksgiving get-togethers were pleasant, happy times when we felt authentically grateful without much need to be prompted to feel that way.
Now that I’m as old as my grandparents were during my childhood, I feel thankful that my life has been a pretty good one. I think back to my extended family, friends, school, and workplaces that helped shape much of who I am today.
Yesterday, while going through some of my obsolete photographic equipment, negatives, and uncategorized photographs, I stumbled upon an old black and white snapshot that was taken by my father. It is the only photo I have of Thanksgiving Day in 1958.
The mealtime photograph was taken in the dining room of the old two-storey bungalow our family occupied in Wayne, Nebraska for a few years. The people in the picture, from left to right are, the arms of my maternal grandpa, next is my maternal grandma, my little brother Mark is peeking above the tabletop, the young woman is mom, next to her is sister Deb, I’m chomping down on the drumstick, and at the right part of the photo are the arms of my maternal uncle.
I’m guessing that I got one of the drumsticks because both of my siblings needed to have their food cut up into bite size pieces at that time. As I look at the photo, I see my first-grader self, long before I became a vegetarian. It also shows me basking in the limelight, being the center of nearly everybody’s attention, for at least awhile.
The oddest part of this photo, is that I don’t remember ever seeing it until yesterday. It might have been one of dad’s old snapshots I acquired from his estate. I’m glad the picture showed up when it did because it is a beautiful representation of the old Thanksgiving Days of my memories.
I hope you have a wonderful, meaningful, memorable Thanksgiving Day, today.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the actor, Billy Crystal. “My mum, Helen, was hilarious. She had a tremendous sense of humour and was a great singer and tap dancer. For many years, she was the voice of Minnie Mouse in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She would be in the float as it came along, singing whatever the Minnie Mouse song of the day was. She was a really big spirit in my life.”