Thanksgiving Memory

 Mama and her girls
Of the family holidays, Thanksgiving remains my favorite. Despite the contradictions involved in the origination of this holiday, the idea of giving thanks for blessings is a good observance. And for me, it was a celebration of the feast my mother always cooked. This following story is my most vivid Thanksgiving memory.


The sweet smell of Thanksgiving began early with the delicately fragrant, smooth taste of egg-nog.  Mama opened a carton of egg-nog a week before Thanksgiving.  I relished the smooth, soft, spicy sweetness of this holiday drink.  Slowly I savored each sip of the small cup Mama gave me.  Every holiday brought the same special sweet-sour feelings, the warmth of everyone being at home, enjoying ourselves inside against the Minnesota cold outside.

On Thanksgiving day, delightful smells flowed through the house,  pumpkin and sweet potato pies, cookies, roasting turkey, dressing, candied yams, greens, and baked bread.  The day began as it did every year, everyone sitting in the living room watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on T.V.  Now,  everyone was watching a football game.  I hated football.  So I roamed through the house, feeling alone. I returned to the living room and absently looked at the T.V.  Men looking like over stuffed bears banged into each other.  Every once in a while Daddy shouted.  Mama sat next to Daddy, looking like a queen, gracefully holding a cigarette in her long, brown fingers, and listening to Shevawn.  Sherri and Lisa sat in a corner playing.  I started toward them but my younger sisters were so involved in what they were doing they didn’t notice me.  So, I went upstairs to our attic bedroom and played with my dolls for a while.   Soon, I became restless, as I often did, wanting to do something, but not knowing what.

I walked to the dining room and sighed, thinking what a mess, as  I looked at the table covered with dirty plates, and glasses, and milk spills on the table cloth. I decided to clean off the table. After taking the dirty dishes and silverware into the kitchen, I placed the candles in a chair.  Then I put two pies on chairs and the third pie on the floor near the chairs.  With a damp cloth I carefully wiped off the tablecloth, scrubbing milk and coffee stains away.  While the cloth dried, I washed dishes.

Now, the long, lacy off-white table cloth made the dining table look pretty and the candle holders sparkled. I picked up one pie from a chair and placed it beside one candle.  As I stepped to get the second pie, my feelings sank with my foot into a soft ooze. I knew what had happened but couldn’t stop it.  My foot was in the middle of a pumpkin pie.  Tears rolled down my face as I held onto a chair and slowly lifted my foot out of the pie. I just wanted to make everything look pretty, I thought.  And now I’ve ruined a pie.  “Why can’t I ever do anything right?” I slid into a chair and pulled off  my shoe.  I used the dish rag to wipe off the pie mess as more tears rose in my eyes.

Just last week I was playing with Shevawn and caught her  finger in the toy truck.  The more I tried to get my baby sister’s finger out of the truck, the louder she cried. I said, “Don’t cry Boo-Boo. Don’t cry.”  But even calling Shevawn her pet name didn’t stop her tears.  Finally, Mama came and showed me how to open the truck so it didn’t hurt Shevawn’s finger.  I remembered the time I washed the dishes and broke a knife and was afraid to tell Mama. But, I didn’t have any choice this time.  Mama would miss the pie, no one else might, but Mama would.

Suddenly little fairy people appeared.  With fluttering wings and graceful gestures they magically cleaned my shoe.  Then they flew and sang over the pie and waved their little wands until it looked as if it had just come from the oven.  I sighed as I finished wiping off my shoe, picked up the destroyed pie,  knowing those fairies weren’t going to come in real life, and carried the crushed pie into the kitchen.

Mama was checking the turkey when I entered. Gently she said, “What happened sweetie?”

Once again tears filled my eyes.  “I was cleaning off the dining table and ran out of space on the chairs.  So, I put a pie on the floor, but forgot and stepped on it.  I just wanted to make the table look pretty.”

Mama smiled and put the pie on the counter, then she gave me a warm hug and said, “Don’t worry, baby, we have plenty of pies.  But, next time, don’t put food on the floor.”

“I’ll never do that again.” I said as I hugged her tightly. Then I went back to the dining room.

I placed the two pies on each side of the candles, and the the fruit bowl between the candles.  Then I set the table with the napkins and fancy silverware Mama kept in the cabinet.A smile brightened my face as I stood by the window looking at the perfectly laid out table.  Just then Mama stepped in with Boo-Boo.

“Shevawn, doesn’t the dining table look pretty?”
“Uh-huh,” Shevawn said as she ran to the window and pressed her nose against it.  “Look,” she said, pointing outside. Large, crystal shaped sparkling white flakes floated down. “It’s snowing.”
I hugged Shevawn and let the warm, sad-happy holiday feeling flow over me.

7 Comments on “Thanksgiving Memory”

  1. I just stumbled in because the photograph was so evocative (your mom was a beautiful lady) and I wanted to see what it was all about. I’m glad I stuck around for the story. It was funny and moving.

    Why are old photos like that so captivating?

  2. Pingback: Right Back At Ya! | ericjohnbaker

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