For most of the 22 years before we moved to Dublin, Liz and I would pack up our car with 4 or 5 days worth of clothes, and head off to Western New York to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. (Liz’s parents were from Ireland and her family didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving growing up.)
We had a similar tradition on Christmas, one year to Western New York to see my family, the next to Long Island to see Liz’s, however we actually stopped that while the kids were still quite young and began having Christmas at home.
So Thanksgiving was always the big holiday with family for us.
Twenty years ago, the table at my parents was full. In fact my dad would borrow several tables and chairs from the fire department so we could fit everyone…gramma was there, aunts and uncles, cousins, and lots of very loud little kids. It was like a mini-family reunion every year.
Like many families the table got smaller and smaller over the years. Some moved away. Others had kids grow up and began their own family traditions. And of course some died.
Over the past several years had Thanksgiving had become, Liz, the girls, me and my parents celebrating around the kitchen table. And since I grew up in a family that loves telling stories (and then married someone who can match the best of us) Thanksgiving became more and more a time of remembering and reconnecting with the past.
And it always seemed to catch me off guard when stories would shared about this or that person, only to have you realise that not only do none of your kids remember them, but most weren’t even born when they were around.
There was both joy and sadness in this process.
Now of course, we’ve moved too far away and can no longer be around my parent’s table. [My parents did join us in Ireland for our first Thanksgiving here, which was great, but November was very cold that year and the heat in our house stopped working and they decided that they’d no longer be doing that.]
Not only that, here (like in every other country in the world of course) Thanksgiving is just another day. The kids usually have school…Brenna has an exam. None of the super markets are running specials on turkeys…and the Christmas season started about 2 weeks ago.
And I think for us…especially the kids, it’s made celebrating this day all the more important. As they begin this process of looking to reconnect and remember an important piece of their history with both joy and sadness.
Here’s wishing an amazing Thanksgiving to our friends and family…we’ll be thinking about you a lot these next few days.