Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays growing up. I got to pick out a favorite dress to wear. If the holiday was at our home, I could help set the table. And I’d be so excited waiting for the doorbell to ring, the signal my Grandma Alice and Grandpa John had arrived. Sometimes my mom’s parents traveled from Troy, NY to our home in Saranac Lake, N.Y. That meant both sets of grandparents would be there.
Conversation flowed from the kitchen through the dining room and into the living room as the women would get the meal ready. My dad would carve the turkey. I’d mentally record the sound of voices, the laughter, the vibration of excitement that being together created. I’ve never been able to duplicate my mother’s dressing or her pumpkin chiffon pie. Recipes give the ingredients and instructions but I lack my mom’s touch.
I’m not sure if we ever had Thanksgiving at my Grandma Alice’s house. I remember meals there. I can see the china and the blue glasses which my eldest daughter now owns. The glasses were much larger then. Somehow they shrunk over the years. My children had too few Thanksgivings and Christmases with their grandparents. Their dad’s parents were no longer living and it was a long trip by car from our home in North Dakota to Saranac Lake. I never thought about that distance when we moved to North Dakota. It was a grand adventure for me. Now that my children have children, I realize their memories of time with their grandparents are treasures but their number is too few. Children learn family values and history at family gatherings like Thanksgiving, Sunday dinners and stopping at their grandparents for impromptu visits. Now I am the grandmother who lives too far from my much loved grandchildren. Some of the older crew remember visiting my home in Wahpeton, N.D. The youngest two do not because we moved to Florida either before they were born or shortly afterwards. And I don’t ever have enough time with any of them during our annual visits to see them. Their parents lead busy lives as do the grandchildren. We take the kids out to eat, try to spend time alone with each one, but I always leave still hungry for more time, more memory making to keep me company until the next visit. I email them. I text them. I talk on the phone with the youngest two, trying to be a long distance grandmother. And I remember how I had my four children call my parents to share all kinds of news, good and bad. “Let’s call your grandparents,” was my frequent suggestion. But I know that was not the same as face to face time, not the same as a fierce, loving, unconditional love hug. I think about these things during the traditional holidays and as my husband and I send birthday cards to each one until they enter college. Those cards include a check. I once bought and mailed gifts but budgets got tighter and a small check was easier. Easier but not as personal. Teaching and leading children to live right and make good choices is important, so important that it is mentioned in the Bible. I try to do that. I consider it a sacred assignment.
Deuteronomy 4: 9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Lord, please help me share the things that you have shown and taught me with my much loved grandchildren. Let them hear my love of you in my voice and see it in my actions. Amen