The Holidays. An all encompassing phrase pretty much summing up November and December. I sometimes feel many think of November and Thanksgiving as the small town opening act
for December with all its beautiful lights, frosty windows, secret letters to you know who, beautiful trees with lights twinkling and the wonderful aroma of Christmas drifting all through the house.
I grew up on a farm and November 1 meant Mama would start cuttin’ pumpkins and cookin’ them for pumpkin pies, cakes and cookies. It always seemed as if I did most of the cutting
of the pumpkins, but it was okay because Mama always made pumpkin pudding, pumpkin butter and the most delicious pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving Day dinner your taste buds had the privilege to meet.
It’s November and getting’ plenty cold by now. Not too much to do on the farm in the winter. We had to make sure the animals were warm, their places clean and they were fed
on time. Of course, when there isn’t much goin’ on, kids will find something to do. Usually it was out in the field chasing the cows, watching my big brother chase Jackrabbits, which he never did manage to catch or watching him try to ride our
bull, Buster. He did manage to get on Buster okay, but it always ended the same way...him landin’ on his butt and yellin’ at Buster for throwin’ him off again.
After awhile we’d get tired of givin’ the cows and Buster a hard time and we’d go in the barn and try to find something to get into. Usually it was seeing who could jump from
one stack of hay bales to another; which wasn’t very fair because our big brother always won or got bored with us sissy girls.
Mama and Daddy stored the root vegetables in one part of the barn and covered them up with a bunch of hay. Mama said you couldn’t keep them in the house ‘cause they’d get all smelly and besides, who has room for a couple hundred pounds of potatoes and
about that many pounds of sweet potatoes and carrots in the living room?
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was a day for eating and enjoying family and just being thankful for your family and for the blessings from the Good Lord.
November at home was fun because I think the entire month we spent getting’ ready for Thanksgiving Dinner.
Seemed Mama was always boilin’ something she needed for the big day. My brother, sister and I would be out runnin’ all over and we’d come in for something and, Oh Lordy, Mama had the whole place, every window in the entire house, upstairs and
down, fogged over from her boiling pots. Couldn’t believe how hot it felt in there. And to make it worse, Daddy was usually in the living room working on the fire in the fire place and it was so hot in there we were volunteering like you wouldn’t
believe to go out to the wood shed for more wood without being asked. I don’t think Daddy ever did figure out why we were so willin’ to bring in the wood for the evening.
Some of Mama’s family would always show up a few days before Thanksgiving. Ya’ see, Mama’s family, her brothers and sisters, all liked to do their visiting on Thanksgiving
and since Mama was the oldest of her brother and sisters, they usually managed to make it to our house.
Usually Uncle Bear and Aunt Pat showed up first. My uncles’ name wasn’t really Bear, but when he was little he had whopping cough and Mama said everyone started teasing him
‘cause he sounded like a bear and I guess the name just stuck. One by one Mama’s brothers and sisters and their families would come and it was wonderful. They’d each bring so much food, I thing we could have fed an army and everything was so different and
When all the cousins would get together we’d pair off boys against the girls and we’d try everything.
The most fun, well for us it was fun, the grown ups didn’t think it was such a cool idea, was to have mud clod fights. Out behind the chicken sheds the grass had grown up about a foot tall and the ground was really muddy from the rain. You could grab
as much grass as you could hold, pull up really hard and all those roots would come up and if you did it just right a wonderful clod of gooey, drippy mud was hanging from the grasses roots. If you didn’t do it just right, the grass would break off in your
hand and you’d be pullin’ so hard, you’d fall back, sitting flat on your butt in the mud. You take aim at someone and sling. Bulls eye and if you didn’t get down pretty quick, you’d most likely get hit with a clod of mud and grass and everyone would fall over
laughing at you.
On Thanksgiving Day there was so much food it was more than a child’s eyes could take in. My Uncle Bill would usually say Grace. He’d say the Grace his Papa, my Grandpa always
said and when he was just about through Uncle Bill would start thanking God for just about everything around. He was thankin’ God for things I didn’t even know we had, but it was okay because that was just Uncle Bill’s way and all the time Aunt Bessie was
pullin’ on his pant leg trying to get his to finish and sit down. I always thought we could be our own “Walton’s Family.” Ya’ see, I was born and raised in California, but of very Southern folks.
Guess I “aught a’ tell ya’ somethin’ about my extended family. Do you remember watching the old TV show about Mayberry with Andy, Opie and the lady who kept house for them?
Do you remember what Andy and Opie called her? You say, “Aunt Bea”?
Oh, no no no, my mistaken one; they called her “Ain’t Bea.” My folks being as Southern as they were, I was taught to call my mother and father’s sisters “Ain’t” whoever.
Uncle Bear and Ain’t Pat and their two boys, Patrick and Jimmy, Uncle Bill and Ain’t Bessie and their daughters, Jackie Sue and Judy Ann, Uncle Orville and Ain’t Roberta and their boy Michael Wayne.
Yep, they all had two names. My mother’s sisters and their families, most likely late, would usually be there. Ain’t Louise and Uncle Harry and their daughter, Gail Ann, Ain’t Naomi and Uncle Lee with their kids, Oh’ Lordy, there was 10 of them so I
will just say they also all had two names, and Ain’t Rende and Uncle Elmer with their son, Harold Wayne.
When I first remember these get-togethers, Grandpa Beck would also be there. It was fun to listen to him talk ‘cause he always called Mama, Sister.
Mama’s family would only get together like this for Thanksgiving and I guess this is the reason I always tried to make it special for my kids. Christmas was for just the family and it was more a time to remember why we had a Christmas in the first
Our son, in 1992, while riding his motorcycle home came around a curve on a mountain road and came face to face with a large pick-up truck coming toward him straddling the
white line; there was no place for Johnnie to go, no way for him to swerve and get out of the way.
Not too long after his accident we learned of a support group for grieving parents, The Compassionate Friends. It is just a group of parents who have lost children and they
get together and try to help each other cope with the horrors of losing a child.
While going to The Compassionate Friends meetings our support group found out a member of the Boise community, Velma Morrison, wife of the founder of Morrison Knudson, had
purchased and donated to The Compassionate Friends, a Christmas tree for the members to decorate for the “Festival Of Trees” Celebration held here in Boise every year during Thanksgiving.
The Festival of Trees is a Christmas Celebration/Fund Raiser for one of our hospitals Life Flight, helicopter ambulance program.
Hundreds of people and organizations purchase the trees and decorate them for the festival which starts every year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. There are so many decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and Gingerbread houses it would fill the
Boise Convention Centre. As entertainment around 15 to 20 people would dress up as story book characters. Watching the children watching the story book characters was such a delight.
The members of The Compassionate Friends decorated the tree and we named our tree “A Beary Special Christmas” and our tree was decorated with all sorts, shapes, and kinds
of teddy bears. We were asked to bring as many small boxes as we had for decorations. That night at our Support Group meeting, there was a table will all sorts of wrapping paper, ribbons, tape, pencils, pens and note paper. We were supposed to wrap these little
boxes with the wrapping paper and they would be added as decoration under our tree when it was set up.
The pens, pencils and note paper was for us to write a note to our lost child and put it in the little box, then wrap it up and place it under the tree. The day after Thanksgiving
Day, we went to the Festival of Trees to see the trees and decorations and it was beautiful. The little box we had put our note for Johnnie was there under the tree. Our tree won 2nd place in its division and was sold to someone for $1,250.00.
At first it was difficult for my husband to go because going to the Festival always reminded him of why we started going in the first place.
To me Thanksgiving Day isn’t just the opening act to Christmas. It is a day to give thanks and appreciate what we all have. I just wish the stores and their commercialism
would realize this and stop acting as if Thanksgiving was just the prelude to their biggest shopping day.
We all have so much for which we should be thankful and it’s not just the day to warm up for tomorrows shopping mad house.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the stores threw their “Black Friday” shopping frenzy and no body went?
Celebrate Thanksgiving Day, celebrate how lucky we all are, celebrate and give thanks for your blessings and celebrate our love for each other. It’s not just the opening act
to the Christmas Season.