Family Life: Holiday Get Togethers

Holiday Get Togethers

By, Diane Burton

The holidays are just around the corner. In fact, Thanksgiving is next week. That’s when the whole family gathers. When my parents were alive, we’d gather at their house. The little 900 square foot house we grew up in. Yep, seven kids, two adults, and one bathroom. Oh, my.

One of our last Thanksgiving dinners at my parents’ saw twenty-eight of us gathered around the ping-pong table in the basement. Not a finished basement, either. Cement floor and walls, with Dad’s tools (the ping-pong table was normally his workbench), the washer and dryer. Those of us who had our own homes brought folding chairs plus something scrumptious to share. Mom, with help from our unmarried sister, made the turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. The rest of us brought pies, casseroles (green bean, anyone?), rolls, Jello salads, etc.

From seven to twenty-six is a big jump. Mostly, it was the grandchildren with a couple of our in-laws who had nowhere else to go. It was noisy and fun. Babies in high chairs, toddlers, high school and middle schoolers. It was family.

As enjoyable as those Thanksgiving meals were, once the food was put away, the dishes were done (by hand, no dishwasher), and the kitchen cleaned, we all gathered back around the table where Dad would hold forth on some current topic. That’s when things deteriorated. As adults, we had strong opinions and didn’t necessarily agree with Dad’s. They say never to talk about politics or religion. Religion never entered into the conversation. Politics did. Oh, boy.

My dad was one of those “my way or the highway” thinkers. He’d pound the table to get his point across. Fortunately, the kiddies had all gone upstairs to play with Grandma’s toys and the babies were napping. Mom ended the heated discussion by asking who wanted dessert. We’d all been too full after the meal to even think about those pies. But we’d worked up an appetite again with all the arguing. By the time, we demolished the pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies, those opposing discussions were forgotten.

Once again, we gathered up the dishes, silverware, and left-overs and carried them upstairs then washed and dried everything. One of us girls shook the crumbs off the tablecloths outside then left them on top of the washer. Toys were put back in the “toybox” (a cardboard box covered with contact paper) and everyone looked for coats, hats, and mittens. Hugs and good-byes then peace and quiet for my parents.

After my dad died, my sisters and I took turns hosting Thanksgiving. Before Mom’s Alzheimer’s hit, my sister either made dinner at Mom’s condo for all of us or drove Mom to our sister in Indianapolis or to my house two hours away. Eventually, as our families grew to include our own grandchildren, we (the original seven) didn’t all gather together. Now our children host us. One year we were visiting our son and his family in Arizona and we ate Thanksgiving dinner out on the patio. How odd that seemed to us Michiganders.

This year, I’m not sure where Thanksgiving will be. At our daughter’s or our son’s. For the first time in twenty years, we all live close by. I’d love to host it, but the last time I did our daughter said she could see how hard it is for me to stand at the stove, how exhausted I was afterward, and said no more. We’ll see. I’m not sure our son will have the energy to cook (he’s a professional chef) after being on the “night shift” for the twins’ feedings. Like all things, we’ll work it out.

No matter where we have Thanksgiving dinner, I’ll enjoy the time to get together with family. Treasured memories.

Meet the Author

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website.

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You can read Diane's "Family Life" column the 3rd Wednesday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette. Do you have any special Thanksgiving memories to share? What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year? Feel free to comment below and chat with Diane.

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