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I’ve always been on the wrong side of Thanksgiving. Don’t misunderstand here. I love the holiday. I would, and did, give genuine and grateful thanks for anything that got me out of the …
I’ve always been on the wrong side of Thanksgiving. Don’t misunderstand here. I love the holiday. I would, and did, give genuine and grateful thanks for anything that got me out of the fifth grade for two days!
And this is mostly a history lesson. I don’t think anyone enjoying the turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving today is old enough to remember when they made the kids wait until all the grown-ups had stuffed their faces. We were told to “Go out and play. We’ll call you when it’s your turn to eat!”
They wouldn’t even let us in the kitchen or dining room! And Heaven help us if we asked for a cold biscuit…
It was excruciating and blatantly unfair. And surely broke at least seventeen child labor laws…and you talk about a kick in the gut to our young self esteem! It was like kids were suppose to “know their place” or something. If there was a teaching moment here, it completely escaped us.
You want to know the “stranger than fiction part”, my very own dear, sweet, loving Mother was the ring leader! And it didn’t matter if we ate at our house or Pa and Gran’s, Uncle Clifford’s or Aunt Beatrice’s... She would turn aside to (rather sternly I thought) remind us that we were to wait until all the grown-ups had finished before coming to the table.
That’s the same Mother who read a bedtime story to me every night, cried when she picked the Como Road gravel out of my knee after a bad spill, warmed the ear medicine so it would be less of a shock to my system, leaped off the couch to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich at my mere suggestion that I might be hungry an hour after supper…
The meal never started at noon. It was mostly Aunt Ruby Nell and Granny’s fault.’ Course, they had help from Aunt Adell and Beatrice. They’d start cooking and talking before daylight. It appeared to me they did more talking and laughing than cooking! Or maybe it just takes a long time when you’re preparing for fifty-seven people.
The grown-ups would sit down around 1:30. I’d had nothing since two bites of a link sausage at breakfast. Uncle Womack didn’t eat, he grazed. Uncle Hugh didn’t allow he was giving proper “Thanks” until he’d eaten through six helpings of everything! F. D. would take one bite and tell two stories. And then one more bite and two more stories…
That Margaret Mitchell lady wrote “Gone with the Wind” in less time than it took those old people to eat one Thanksgiving meal!
Now remember, all of us kids are outside playing (and starving). But we’d check by the dinning room window from time to time and marvel at how rapidly the turkey, dressing, ham, green bean casserole and marshmallow topped sweet potatoes were disappearing.
When they finally called us in a little before dark there wasn’t nothing left but some pork shank, one chicken neck and a handful of Brussels sprouts.
It was enough to scar a young fellow for life! The only “light at the end of the tunnel” was knowing we’d all be adults someday. I would drop off to sleep on Thanksgiving night dreaming about growing up enough to make the first shift.
Time cures lots of ills. I was polite and mindful of Mom’s wishes. I didn’t rebel or “kick against the pricks”. I ate cold turkey and dressing without any cranberries. I never one time got the last piece of apple pie.
Life never stops. And it is mostly fair. I paid my dues. I relished in the knowledge that my DAY was coming.
And it did!
I went to sleep one night and woke up with a steady job, a wife and two children….adulthood! And the first thing I realized…when Thanksgiving rolled around…danged if they are not LETTING THE KIDS EAT FIRST NOW!
You’ve got to be kidding me! How did this happen? When did the children take over? How are they ever going to learn patience, perseverance, fortitude and resiliency? It’s hard to “give thanks” meaningfully when everything is handed to you from the get-go…
Those young punks ought to wait their turn! I take back what I said about life being fair! I’m telling you, the cold hard facts of life...are cold and hard!
I guess there is a small silver lining here, I have developed a taste for pork shank and Brussels sprouts…