Awake again

Now that the 2016 elections are over I feel that I can restart my blog again. In doing so, I will begin with my thoughts on the holidays. What I mean by the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Traditionally, these holidays are all about being around the family. I originally believe that the family was composed of those blood relatives or in-laws. But as life progressed, the family began to grow into friends and acquaintances that I met along the way. During the time that my family was growing, the holidays were very busy and even sometimes chaotic. It seemed like there was hardly a break between last year’s holidays and this year’s holidays. It seemed easier to choreograph how each day would play out.
Thanksgiving meant the preparation of a large meal for many people. Each participant in the Thanksgiving feast would have their favorite item. This meant that a great deal of shopping and preparation took place so that all those invited could enjoy the day. Fortunately, for me (the man in the family) there was very little time spent shopping for the items and preparing them in the kitchen. My job was to make sure there are enough tables and chairs and plates and glasses for everyone to have their setting. There was one year when I tried to deep-fry a turkey in my garage. Having no prior experience at this, I filled the pot with oil and heated it up. Then when the oil was at the right temperature I lowered the turkey into the pot. Only to realize that I put too much oil into the pot and I watched as the hot oil overflowed onto the garage floor, causing quite the scramble to make sure that no one got hurt. Of course, I followed the tradition of carving the turkey after it was placed on the dining room table. My other job was to keep the peace amongst the many children and adults at the gathering. It was in these days that I developed the “look”. It was my way of trying to control the children without physically getting up out of my chair walking over and picking the child up and removing them to a quiet area until understanding was worked out about behavior at the Thanksgiving table. Of course, there were so many people at the gathering that there was more than one table. There was the main table where the oldest adults would be seated. After my father gave up having the gathering at his house I was given the honor of sitting at the head of the table and carving up the turkey. There was usually a second table which was composed of the younger adults and the children. Many years there was a third table just for the children. The idea there was to have a smaller table and chairs which made it easier for them to eat their meal.
Another tradition was that the people who did not participate in cooking a meal would clean up the table and put the dishes either in the dishwasher are on the counter to be cleaned later (usually by my wife). Many years the men in the family and many of the women, would vie for position in the living room area next to the biggest TV that we could own. That meant in the early years the people sat close to each other to try and watch the 25-inch color TV. As time went on I could put up several TVs in different strategic areas so that everyone could watch what they wanted. For me I would watch the football games for some of the non-football people a TV would be turned into a movie. And, to try to control the children who had had too much pumpkin pie, ice cream or sugar, there was a TV for children’s programming. As the years went by and those present at the table began to grow and grow I would purchase more table and chairs that were only used once a year and then I had a find a place to store them for the rest of the year. As hectic as it seemed at times, it was truly a time for the family to get together. Most of the time there was peace and goodwill, sometimes there were arguments and hurt feelings. Sometimes there would be a relative who drank too much and would end up face down asleep on a bed in one of the bedrooms. There always seemed to be some incident, good or bad, that made people cry. I did my best when offering the first toast at the table, and making up a toast that would make somebody cry. Most the year I tried to be a very non-emotional person. But during the toast I would bring out the emotional thoughts and place them in a story that became the toast on that Thanksgiving Day. For many years, I would watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade on the television. I would set in amazement of how many people would stand in line to watch the countless number marching bands and big balloons. I think I watched it so I could participate with my children in a common moment.
There were some occasions where the men and the boys and the woman and the girls would try to participate in a football game in the yard. This almost always led to someone getting injured and the game being canceled due to unintentional roughness. Most of the participants would stay for the appropriate amount of time and would head off to another relatives Thanksgiving event. But, it seemed like each year there is always one family that would truly overstay their welcome and I would have to get them to realize it was time for them to go home. Some years a relative would stay the night at the house or as I put it, sleep on the couch.
All in all, there are a lot of fond memories and the continuation of some traditions on Thanksgiving Day. As time, marched on and the children were grown and began their own traditions at their houses the Thanksgiving Day event became smaller and smaller at my house. Then it became time to change from hosting the event to being a participant at someone else’s event. As I became older and I retired from work I moved farther away from the area where most the family lived. And so, for many years my wife and I would go to a casino on the holidays. It was a way to enjoy the day, be surrounded by many people, have a great meal and feel involved. As I stated in an earlier blog, there were a lot of people just like me and my wife would go to a casino for the holidays. Many of those people had no family to go to or found out that it was very hard to choose one Thanksgiving event over another Thanksgiving event without hurting someone’s feelings. I know that even if someone said, it’s okay that you didn’t go to my event, many times they did not mean that. So, my wife and I found that going to the casino seemed to be accepted practice that our relatives could understand.
This is the first year that I and my wife neither had an event or participated in one or went to the casino. This year we experienced Thanksgiving Day at home alone. We set down at the table designed for six people to sit at and looked at all the beautiful ingredients for the meal. There was the downsized turkey and all the fixings. The setting was beautiful and the meal was delicious. As we set down to eat we held each other’s hand and my wife said a prayer of thanks for the family and the meal. It was at this moment that my wife began to tear up. I asked her if she was okay. She said she was fine but she missed being around all the family. It was at that moment that I too became a little melancholy and my mind flashed back to the days of a full house of relatives and friends. I think that we got so used to being the center of the activity that when activity had become so diminished we missed the craziness of the day. I miss the closeness of our family members and the traditions of thanksgivings past.
But as in an awakening, I realized how wonderful this Thanksgiving was. Even though the event is changed its magnitude, it is still about giving thanks for what we have. I have a loving wife and friend who still shares the day with me. Our children are well and fine as they begin their own traditions. Our health is in good stead and our minds continue to be busy. I sit at a beautiful table in a wonderful house in the middle of the forest. Our only guests this year are our dogs. Yet the setting here is beautiful and is something to give thanks for.
Christmas in the past was always full of similar moments. There was the hustle and bustle of buying the presents for all the children and family members. However, in days past that meant going to the many stores and shopping centers finding a parking space and to try and find the right gifts. In today’s world, there is the Internet and Amazon. This makes shopping a whole lot easier, once you can get an idea from your family members on what they want for Christmas, sometimes, this is a task. Christmas is a religious holiday and I have not forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. This Christmas also means that I want to give to others. And in my time sending presents to the kids in your family seem to be away of celebrating Christmas. During the last 10 years, the Christmas list has grown. This year the presence will be purchased for the many grandchildren and the children of our nieces and nephews. When you start off with 13 grandchildren and then add the many grand nephews and nieces the list really gets long. Yeah for the Internet and Amazon. My wife is working hard on keeping a personal touch to the gifts by having them sent to our house first, gift wrapping them and then mailing them to the recipients. As in recent Christmas past we will probably not buy each other gifts. We will find a way to spend some time together and reap the benefit of watching those recipients enjoy the gifts we send them. It is strange that as you get older you get more pleasure out of giving then receiving.
I was silent during most of the year because no matter how I tried to keep politics out of my thoughts I was unable to do so. I did not want to get into a candidate or some issue rant and make some ridiculous statement that would only be pertinent to that day. The 2016 election has come and gone and now I can share my thoughts on life’s issues. And so, I thank you for reading my blog and I hope to become as busy as I was in the beginning by putting out pops on the porch thoughts.

3 thoughts on “Awake again”

  1. I remember those wonderful days!! I love you both and miss you very much!
    You mentioned “the look”. I smiled when I read that. I remember that, but always felt lucky because I don’t think I ever got that look. Just a loving look with laughter and love!!

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