I’ve always thought that Thanksgiving is one of our most underrated holidays. Quintessentially American—hey, we invented it—this last Thursday in November occasion holds warm memories for most of us and continues to be a heartfelt day of reflection.
Going all the way back to when I was a kid, I truly remember Thanksgiving as a joyous family gathering. We would combine our family with my Aunt Evelyn’s family here in town, and bring in grandparents and various other relatives to create a large contingent for the day.
Inevitably, the cousins would hit the yard before and/or after dinner for rousing pick-up football games. The meal itself, like yours I’m sure, was always bountiful and colorful, with folks spilling into various rooms to eat.
As is the case to this day, the Detroit Lions were hosting somebody for their annual Turkey Day game on TV. The Lions weren’t particularly good then, nor are they today, but we all watched then and now.
(Note: way back in the day, there were no college games broadcast on Thanksgiving Day. The first one I saw was Texas- Texas A&M in the early 60s. Now, of course, we have a featured game or two every year, which has often, including this year, been Ole Miss- Mississippi State. Plus, of course, the Cowboys began their own tradition of hosting a second Thanksgiving NFL game some years ago, and the league has since added a night game, with Saints-Falcons up this year. So, yeah, there’s plenty of football available.)
Those Thanksgivings of my youth turned into Mary Jon and me hosting our extended family at our home. Though smaller in scope, and having lost our parents gradually over the years, these have always been wonderful occasions as well. Start preparing days before, kids arriving home from college or their new homes, get up Thursday morning, watch the Macy’s parade, then continue with an updated version of our Thanksgivings over the years.
Four years ago, we started a new Thanksgiving tradition. Our oldest son Cooper and our cool daughter-in-law Rainey are now hosting the day’s festivities at their home in Jackson, and Rainey’s mom Martha’s home in Ridgeland. Younger son Wesley comes up from New Orleans, we grab our two pups, Bea and Lily, to head up, and Jackson/Ridgeland becomes our new Thanksgiving locale.
A lot of the day remains the same as always. The food, with everybody pitching in, is fantastic. The boys and I still go out and throw the football. In the evening, Coop, Wes, and I commandeer Coop’s widescreen TV and settle in for the Egg Bowl.
The best similarity of all to Thanksgivings past is the love and warmth of our family gathering together. We visit, exchange news and stories, hang out in front of the fire (if it’s cold enough), and call family members and friends living across the country to check-in.
I’m sure that many of you have Thanksgiving stories similar to mine above. I’m also sure that you’ll agree it’s a great time to truly give thanks so as to live up the day’s name, and to gather the family together when possible.
So, to all of you, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Let’s bring out the turkey and dressing (and numerous pies), watch a little ball, and love on each other in proper fashion.
(Richard Lucas may be contacted at [email protected].)