My mother used to tell us that she wished she could plug us into her brain and we could see the memories she saw. Now that I have my children I know just what she means. In my mind I can go back to far away Thanksgivings with people who no longer walk this earth. I can sit in my grandparents kitchen next to the woodstove stuffed full with my Grandmother's dumplings listening to bluegrass with my Grandfather.
I can walk into my Great Aunt Jane and Great Uncle Red's house so hot from it's own woodfire that the people stuffed in it like sardines in a can were in t shirts sweating. It was a tiny four room house with a bathroom. We'd cram in around the table sitting on the sewing machine stool or whatever we could. My Aunt would hover over the table getting this or that while we all told her to sit and eat. Now that I have a family of my own I realize she just wanted to get us all taken care of so she could sit and eat in peace. I can smell the bread just toasted in the oven for the stuffing. My Great Uncle's stuffing spicy with homesgrown red pepper flakes and sage cooked in the turkey that was roasted in the barbeque he built in the back yard. And then there was the blackberry cobbler. Delicious food, simple but prepared with love by their own hands.
My Great Uncle with that year's turkey
Do I remember the table setting...the silverware...the floral arrangements? Not really. I remember the people though. I can see them so clearly in my mind that it hurts when I realize I can't reach out and hug them anymore. It turns out that after all these years what really mattered were those people, the time we spent together, the laughter and the love. Because those people always loved me. They poured it over me generously without my even asking. I was born into their love and don't remember a moment without it.
I hope one day I'll sit around a table with them again. I hope that when I go to be with Jesus that they'll all be there too, at that great feast. But until then I'll thank God on this Thanksgiving Day for the people he blessed me with.