Thursday, November 22, 2012

Where my heart goes on Thanksgiving by Terry Burns

I can’t help it.

When it comes time to give thanks one of the things I am most thankful for is family. So it makes sense that’s where my thoughts go on this special day.

When I was young Thanksgiving (not to mention Christmas) meant a mandatory trip to Mamaw’s house in Electra TX. There was no choice . . . but we didn’t want a choice. That’s where all of us wanted to be. The aromas that would come from that kitchen were torture, and it seemed to take forever before it was time to eat. How that many ladies managed to be involved in that small a space is something I can’t wrap my head around today, and as to where we all slept in that tiny house? I have no idea.

I was the oldest of my generation, the only one slightly ahead of the baby-boomers which meant I presided over the second table. The men were around the first table and the women would eat later. (I presume they were able to do this because they did a lot of sampling as they cooked) Whether that was true or not, that’s how Mamaw decreed it would be and that diminutive little lady was the queen. The year there would have been an opening at the first table was also the year Mamaw died so I never got to get one of those coveted seats.

After her death Mother became the Mamaw of her own tribe, and we were all just as loyal. No matter what was going on in our lives Thanksgiving and Christmas were mandatory appearances there in Pampa TX. Wonderful, wonderful times and it often seems that the happiest times of my life centered around the gatherings in the two towns.

My father and my brother passed on within months of each other, my brother actually at Christmas. By some unspoken assent Christmas and Thanksgiving passed to my wife and I although mom was with us and clearly still presided. I loved these gatherings and the happy memories continued.

Finally, Christmas shifted to my son’s house. It just made sense to have it there as they had the room and it was much less to try to pack and carry the things they need to carry with three kids. Thanksgiving became just mom, Saundra and I with an occasional guest or two. After she passed, we began just inviting a couple of people over, the last couple of years the pastor and his wife. Much smaller, but still great memories.

My life seems to be summed up in these rites of passage measured by the passing of the baton for hosting these joyous events. All are special to me and the memories flood around me at this time of year. Each definitively mark a period in my life, and perhaps the passage of time make each more dear, particularly those early days at Mamaw’s house.

I do hope your Thanksgiving is every bit as special and your memories just as dear. When it comes time to count blessings, these are some I count without fail.


Anonymous said...

Terry - What a great post. My experience is much the same as yours, though I'm a bit younger. My mom is still alive, runs Thanksgiving, and still rules the roost, though with a gentle hand. The day she leaves will come and though I dread it, what I remember can never be taken from me. I pray other little boys have the opportunity to experience the same bitter sweet Thanksgivings as you and I.

Max Lewis

Linda Glaz said...

We all lived spread so far apart, so when we did all get together, it was such a blessing. And I remember them so dearly to this day. I fear a great many of the younger generation will never have these kinds of memories with families spreading out further and further. Blessings to all!