..... of sunny freezing Thursdays, waking to the smell of Nannie's turkey in the oven, rolling over on the old bed on the third floor, surrounded by my babies.....
..... of full bellies lying on the couch, begging for relief, as Hough's creamed spinach wound its way through an overloaded digestive tract.....
..... of my first niece, a veg even as a toddler, eating cucumbers for dinner and feeling just fine.....
..... of walks around the neighborhood, wrapped in scarves and hats culled from the front hall closet, surrounded by all ages and temperments, mellowed by tryptophan and love.
Thanksgiving was in Cleveland Heights. My family was too far and too expensive to visit, plus, there were all those arguments which never seemed to end. TBG's folks put out the welcome mat for us, and we wiped our feet and joined the fun year after year after year. The drive from Chicago wasn't too onerous, especially as we crooned Over the River and Through the Woods... we really were on our way to Grandmother's house. Somehow, that song felt as if it had been written especially for us.
I fought with my brother-in-law for the remains of that spinach; I wasn't into pie, so I had plenty of room. We'd sit in the dining room (using it, for once, as more than an inconvenient space between the kitchen and the tv room), sideboards groaning, waiting for Nannie's yearly screech; Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without my mother-in-law jumping up from the table just as the first fork was lifted and yelping, "Oh, shit... I burned the rolls!"
Some things get better with the passage of time. That was wonderful in each and every original moment.
Over time, as the kids grew and sports schedules interrupted our travels, we made our own memories. The Bride taught us about ketchup on turkey. Big Cuter needs horse radish since he scorns the gravy. Little Cuter's mashed potatoes are creamy and not at all lumpy and will be sorely missed this year as she makes her own way, over the river and through the woods, to her own mother-in-law's house for the holiday. I'll try my best, but the boys are already moaning over their loss.
That's the way it is, though, isn't it? Time passes and nothing changes and everything changes and we all look for what's missing and there's a moment when all you can do is sigh. Christina-Taylor helped G'ma choose the serving pieces two years ago; I'll never put them out again without feeling her right beside me. I'll make my own creamed spinach, and feel my brother-in-law's eyes on the last bite in the bowl. I'll try not to burn the rolls, and I'll laugh at myself and Nannie at the same time.
There will be no shopping on this Thanksgiving Day. There will be fewer people at the table, but just as much love. We are here. We are fed. We are happy.
Thanks for being part of the wonder that is my life. Each and every one of you makes it that much sweeter. Who needs pie? I have all of you.