One week from today it will be Thanksgiving, beginning what many refer to as "the holiday season". Thanksgiving is a time that I automatically connect with family. Some of my earliest memories of family gatherings (at least beyond my immediate family) revolve around Thanksgiving. As a very young boy, I remember waking up early to the smell of cooking permeating our house. The first scents I detected were that of sausage frying and biscuits just about done. They were my mother's contribution to early breakfast at our church, and a short Thanksgiving service. I don't remember any of the services; I do remember the food and fun with my friends as we sampled every variation of the traditional southern breakfast. One of my favorite foods was (and still is) a Krispy Kreme doughnut with chocolate frosting. That was a treat for me - one of the few times I could sample that delicacy! (Now, I sample them all too often, as my waistline shows!)
After church, my father, brother, and I headed off into the woods for our annual hunting trip. I won't go into details here, but the small game we were after usually succumbed to laughter at our efforts before our shots. That's a whole 'nother post!
At mid afternoon we gathered at my grandmother's house with aunts, uncles, and cousins for The Meal. It was a Norman Rockwell painting come to life - or at least that's how I remember it. We kids were relegated to going through the line last (isn't that a lot different today!), but there was always enough to go around. After seconds, maybe thirds on a favorite, the adults retired to the living room to solve the world's problems, and the kids went outside to play.
That stream of consciousness just came from hearing the phrase "home for the holidays" in a song on a late-night drive back from a client meeting. It all flashed by me in literally a few seconds, and made me think about how our traditions have, and are, changed. Thanksgiving in our family since Anita and I were married has always been at our house, for a simple reason: Serving on a church staff, we couldn't be gone from the church both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we always "volunteered" to stay on-call for Thanksgiving so we could drive back to Tennessee for Christmas. While we didn't have the extended family memories of Thanksgiving like the above, we have succeeded in making a few of our own: food experiments (usually good, but then there was that chutney); Macy's Parade in Atlanta; inviting college friends home; bonfire and S'mores; parades and football.
This year (and what a year it's been), home for the holidays is going to be different. Our two older sons now have families of their own, work schedules that dictate their availability to travel, and long distances to cover in a short time. One week out, we don't know what our Thanksgiving will be - except that it will be different. Maybe that will be a good thing...maybe it will be a God thing!