I wonder what Ryan will remember most about our family Thanksgiving dinners when he looks back in 30 years.
When I look back, I remember the cold outside and the way the hot food cooking inside would steam up the windows. That the gravy was the best part and was doused over absolutely everything on the plate – except my Grandma’s homemade applesauce, which was special enough to warrant its own little bowl.
How afterward, the guys would lay in all their food-coma glory in the living room and watch football while the ladies cleaned up the kitchen. Of course, this was before everyone had a dishwasher, so washing all those dishes took awhile. (I feel I’ve officially reached the age at which I can describe how life was “back then” before all the modern amenities.)
I wonder what will stand out to Ryan… Maybe the moment that Mike’s family arrives after flying all day to get to us. The hugs and the tears and the smell of turkey in the air. Maybe he’ll remember the moment we sit down to dinner and toast – to another year of being around the table together, despite the distance that is usually between us.
Dad, Pop and Ryan / Thanksgiving 2010
He won’t remember the cold outside; it will be 75 degrees. So maybe he’ll remember how the holiday marks one of the first times since spring that we can throw open all the doors and windows.
Sometimes I worry that living in the desert deprives my son of all the nostalgic holiday moments and ambiance that his parents experienced growing up back east. It’s still strange to me that it’s hot on Halloween and that there is something like a .00004 percent chance that we’ll have a white Christmas. I worry that this place robs Ryan of that special holiday feeling.
But that’s silly, isn’t it? So he won’t remember crisp air and crunchy leaves, but hopefully he’ll remember the weeks of anticipation that family would be gathering. The beautiful weather and the good food – including (Great) Grandma’s applesauce. (And honestly, he’ll also probably remember how the men watched football while the ladies cleaned up.)
I hope what he remembers most is that we didn’t stress about the details. That we stocked up on drinks because we knew we would be celebrating. That really, even being far from family can be a blessing if you consider it in the right light – that it forces us to truly be thankful for every moment together.