Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thoughts of Thanksgivings Past

My family's Thanksgiving table, 1953

The house is quiet now.  Our children have returned to their respective homes after a busy and enjoyable Thanksgiving week in Fredericksburg.  

I now sit back with a cup of tea and think about Thanksgivings past. I think about why this holiday is so important that family travel so far in order to be with their loved ones.

Thanksgiving 1953
Taughannock Boulevard Home of Ed and Carol Nunn
From lf: Maude & Merritt Agard, Dick & Beverly Agard, Laura Hardenbrook, Carol & Ed Nunn, Mr. Wheeler
Seated: Mary Nunn, Nancy Agard
My family always gathered the Sunday after. We operated a restaurant so Thanksgiving and Easter were our busiest days. Since Thanksgiving was the last day of the serving season, that Friday and Saturday were dedicated to closing up the large building for the winter.  Consequently it was on Sunday that we finally had time to gather for the traditional Thanksgiving meal in our Taughannock Boulevard home near Ithaca, New York.

Thanksgiving at the Maki's 1993
Raising my own family, we opened our home on Thanksgiving to as many relatives and others who could make it. Cousins, aunts, and uncles came to Newfield, NY from New Mexico, Ohio, and Buffalo.  Our winding driveway brought them over the river and through the woods to our sprawling ranch house that could easily accommodate 30-35 people for Thanksgiving dinner; a new tradition was born.  For many years the Maki clan gathered around our many tables to enjoy delicious food, card games, football, and conversing with each other. 

The Thanksgiving buffet line 1993
Each family brought a dish to share and our long kitchen counter groaned under the number of delicious dishes it held. When the youngsters in the family turned into teenagers, they stayed until all hours playing Axis and Allies, and then returned the next day to continue the game.

Cousins catching up, 1993 
It goes without saying that food is a main ingredient to a successful Thanksgiving. This year we had way too much food, and I realized the reason was that everyone had to prepare the dish that meant the most to them at Thanksgiving.  Since this is important, next year I will suggest we make half the recipe.  

The common thread through these thoughts of Thanksgivings past is sense of community, whether that is immediate family, friends, or gathering at a communal dinner somewhere.  As humans we need a safe haven; we need human interaction. We need “family,” however it is described.  Thanksgiving provides that opportunity.

I pray our growing family will gather here every year and that we can continue to provide them with a safe haven, a Thanksgiving retreat. 

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