Sunrise, Sunset and Thanksgiving Traditions — Neuse News

Thanksgiving is a generational holiday in our family. When Sandra and I first got married, we spent Thanksgiving at her mother’s house. Her mother, Rebie Dawson, was an old-fashioned farm cook. When Rebie fed us, we were fed. A typical Thanksgiving meal was turkey and dressing, ham, creamed potatoes, corn, lima beans, field fields, string beans, kale, and homemade biscuits.

Over the years, the Thanksgiving festivities have moved into our home and been passed on to us, the next generation. Sandra’s mom often contributed to the meal by baking homemade cookies in our oven and helping Sandra with the vegetables. The menu was still the same, except sometimes we didn’t have ham.

During those past years, Sandra still cooked. At that time, when Sandra fed us, she fed us. It’s no wonder that during the first six months we were married, I gained 30 pounds. I still have most of them.

Over the past several years, the organization of Thanksgiving festivities has been passed on to another generation. Our daughter Rachel hosts our Thanksgiving potluck and what we have come to call “Thanksmas,” our family holiday combining Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of my children and their spouses contribute plates to the meal. Sandra and I had a Jackie Hardison strawberry shortcake. By taking the cake, we were able to contribute, and Sandra didn’t have to cook.

(I once threatened to remove the burners on the stove and replace them with pots. One year, I hid Sandra’s Christmas present in the oven at our house. If a son-in-law hadn’t asked her to make chocolate cakes that year, her gift would still be at home in the range to this day.)

We still have kale, but the next generation has added sweet potato soufflé and Brussel sprouts. Michael and Pam bring the ham while Joe and Rachel prepare the turkey. This year we had the traditional roast turkey, but Joe also made roast turkey on the grill. We still had corn and green beans. Instead of Rebie’s homemade cookies, we had bagels.

All 12 of our grandchildren came to the celebration. Eight came with their parents, but my four adult grandchildren came from their residences. Adult grandchildren participate in our “Dirty Santa” adult gift-giving practice.

I oversee the entire process. Few people realize that I have holes in my eyelids that allow me to see even when I seem to have fallen asleep. We arrived around 11:30am to find that Rachel had set up two appetizer trays. She called them, or maybe just a tray, by a French name I didn’t catch. Joe and Rachel were putting the finishing touches on their contributions to our party.

By 2 pm everyone had gathered and we had the Thanksgiving prayer for the meal. Since I’m limping like a wounded horse waiting to be put out of her misery, Rachel fixed my plate for me. I pulled my Rollator over to the table to claim my spot, sipped my coffee, and waited as 24 people made their way through three tables of food.

Several years ago, Joe and Rachel decided to buy special dishes for “Thanksgiving.” They are large, sectioned and washable. Rachel pulled out range to make my plate. She brought me the two kinds of turkey, a slice of ham, broad beans, green beans, and sweet potato soufflé. She also avoided putting bread and creamed potatoes on my plate, as I asked. Now don’t get me wrong. I love bread and creamed potatoes, but I love them too much.

At 3 pm, it was time for the eight youngest grandchildren to open their presents. The adults then participated in the “Dirty Santa” swap. Trust me, “Dirty Santa” can get pretty fierce. We have a rule that no gift can be taken more than twice to keep things moving along.

When I got in my car to go home shortly after 4:30 pm, the joy I felt was palpable. Not the joy of leaving, but the joy of being able to be with all my family, without drama, without bickering, without idiocy. only love

Mike Parker is a columnist for Neuse News. You can reach him at [email protected]

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