My ex had a lot of complaints when it came to my family and how I was raised.
The primary complaint being how we were not the refined, cultured caste of people he thought his family was.
His family had the big sit-down dinner at Thanksgiving, where they went around and reflected on what they were thankful for, the blessings they had received over the year. It was a very serious undertaking, like something out of a made for T.V. movie or a grocery store commercial.
The first time I was a part of this, I was a little shell-shocked. That was not how my family celebrated. Didn’t make one right, or one wrong, at least not to me. It was just different.
Granny did all the cooking, starting her turkey the night before. She fussed about it too. We all heard about it as did anyone with a telephone that she knew.
Granny would have to call and tell everyone how much she had done and how cussed tired she was.
“I’m so thankful that’s over with. Now – to get through Christmas!”
She was irritated because she had to make two pans of dressings; my uncle and I required dressing without the onions. Two sweet potato pies had to be made too; Granny was infuriated when she saw Mama and I peeling off the meringue with disgust.
“The only reason I am making you a pie without the egg white is because it’s a special occasion,” the old woman would tell us. “So you be thankful for that.”
When it was all on the table and ready, there was no gentle calling to the table but a raucous yell to come eat.
At our table, there was no sitting around saying what we were thankful for – I guess country folks, or self-proclaimed hillbillies, don’t have to set aside one day out of the year to be thankful. We had already said our thanks as the moments occurred.
Some days, it was gratitude for Pop being with us another day; other days it was gratitude that whatever was wrong with the cat wasn’t that serious.
We gave thanks as the moments of thankfulness occurred, quietly, humbly and with the reverence each one deserved.
There was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade while eating a pre-dinner turkey sandwich. There were football games followed by talk of how badly Georgia was going to beat Tech in a few days. There were leftovers that never seemed to end no matter how many table treats the dogs and cats received. There was usually a vet visit the day after because Pepper the beagle had indulged a little too much.
For the ex, the day was a chance to see relatives he only saw one day a year. So that was a holiday we often spent with his family, much to my mama’s chagrin.
“Guess you aren’t coming this year?” she would ask wistfully, with only a twinge of guilt being poured in her question.
“You probably like the way they do things better anyway.”
Truth be told, I didn’t.
I thought it was a bunch of hoity-toity put-on nonsense.
Give me Granny yelling about how we forgot to get cranberry sauce or how she was going to instigate a ban on football over a forced air of family cheer any day.
We may not have had the elaborate sit down affair. Granny had quit using her good plates – that we doubt were even fancy China but just dishes she liked – for paper plates long before the ex came to be. Tablecloths always got something spilled on them and were one more thing to clean. Not much different than any other day, except we had a big turkey in the middle of the table, dressing and pies minus meringue.
It was just an everyday day, but a day of togetherness.
It was not fancy smancy like the ex’s family did. But it was the way mine did it.
We didn’t need one day to appreciate each other or what we had. We did that every day, in our own way and we knew that no matter what, we may not be the most refined, or have those made-for- T.V.-like moments, but we loved each other.
And for that, I am very thankful.