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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving past

Every Thanksgiving I remember a long time ago, when Grandma and Granddad Smith were alive, and before all the cousins began to marry off. We'd have Thanksgiving in Reece, Kansas at the grandparents' place. They had a gigantic dining room table that could seat most of us. Mom and Dad, Mom's three brothers and their wives, me and nine more cousins, if the California Smiths could come; they couldn't every year. Each family would bring food, and Grandma would cook up a storm. The table would be covered. Turkey and ham, two kinds of stuffing, countless cooked vegetables and salads, dinner rolls and corn bread. Out in the kitchen would be at least three kinds of pie and cake for the people who didn't like pie.

Every single year, just as we sat down - Grandma at the short end nearest the kitchen and Granddad at the other end - Grandma would gasp, and in a horrified voice, say, "We don't have enough food!" And she'd be deadly serious. We ate all day and I swear everyone took home more food than they brought.

After dinner, all the women would head for the kitchen to clean and divvy up the food. All the men would park in front of The Game. The cousins would divide up. The older ones would go off and do teenager things, and even though I was only 3 years younger, I'd go play with the three youngest ones. We'd go out in the big yard, close to the woods near the creek, and we'd play. Cowboys and Indians, pirates, in the sandbox, with a ball, on the swing, whatever. I played with them even though I was a teenager too. I'd rather have still been a kid. Being a teenager never seemed like much fun.

The years passed. The older cousins began to marry and go elsewhere for Thanksgiving. Granddad died, Dad died, Grandma sold the house and moved to a retirement home, and the old family Thanksgiving was over forever. But never, never forgotten. Mom's still alive, thank God, and two aunts and one uncle. The cousins now have grandkids. Thanksgiving now is just Mom, my husband, and me.

And a lot of memories.

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