When I think of Thanksgiving traditions, nothing brings a bigger smile to my face than to remember our gathering as a family at my grandparent’s house.
I can still see the table, all set and decorated, ready for the adults to take their seats. The “kids” table was ready and waiting just off the dining room but still within sight so our parents could keep an eye on us to make sure there were no shenanigans!
The warmth of the house and the smells in the air from Nana cooking all day are there too, as are the sounds of my Grandpa and Uncles enjoying their time together on the back porch in front of the wood burning stove.
The kitchen was always busy with many hands volunteering to help with the tasks required to make the meal come together.
Peeling and cutting potatoes and turnips, basting the turkey, and the never ending stream of dishes to wash.
Then, probably the most important task of all – taste testing!
Someone had to make sure the stuffing was seasoned properly, the gravy was thick enough, and the desserts weren’t too sweet.
The kids who were just old enough to help usually got to finish setting the table.
This was an important job as they had to make sure no one was left without a fork or napkin and that there was a place ready for all of the dishes that would soon be brought in from the kitchen.
There was usually some down time right before dinner where the kitchen chores were either finished or on hold when Nana could spend time with the rest of the family and take a break.
The turkey was out of the oven and resting a bit before being carved, side dishes were in their serving bowls and being kept warm, and the hors d’oeuver trays had been cleared and put away.
My dad would usually carve the turkey and he always saved the best part to share with my brother and I – the tail! Yup. The bum. The part that went over the fence last. To this day, that is one of my favorite parts, along with the gizzard and heart!
While my dad was busy cutting up the bird and arranging the pieces on the serving platter we all pitched in and helped bring the rest of the meal to the table. Over the course of the next hour or so we all enjoyed the amazing food, great company, and filled ourselves with the love of being together as a family.
When the main meal was done and some of the table had been cleared, a few of the adults would head off to relax on the back porch or recline on the couch in the living room
and the kids joined the remainder of the family at the adult table anxiously waiting for dessert.
My Thanksgiving traditions have changed dramatically over the years. I moved to Hawaii from my home in Massachusetts when I was 21 and have spent only a handful of Thanksgivings with my family in the past 28 years, with only one of those times being back at my parent’s house.
While living on Maui, my Thanksgivings always included surrounding myself with friends who had become my family over the years. We were all mostly transplants to the island and were away from our families so it only made sense to create our own “family” circle and share these special times together.
After moving back to the mainland with Shari, we settled in the same town as her family so our Thanksgiving traditions changed again. Now, we mostly spend the holiday with her parents and her sister’s family.
How do I see us spending Thanksgiving in the future? Who knows!
Our plans are to be full time travelers in the near future so we could be having dinner on the rim of the Grand Canyon, strolling through the French Quarter in New Orleans, exploring the natural beauty of Zion National Park in Utah, or sitting at my parent’s dining room table in Lynn, MA enjoying the beauty of being together as a family.
However our traditions evolve, I know that I will always be thankful for everything I have experienced in this life, the places I have been fortunate enough to visit, and, especially, the people I have met along the way.
Thoughts shared by Kris