Thanksgiving Memories (Rox)

I always believed traditions were something that remained static.  That could be because for much of my younger years, my family's holiday traditions did.  Each year one of the aunts (my great aunts) or cousins would host Thanksgiving, then another would host Christmas.  Those were the two times a year I could count on seeing all my cousins.  Sometimes it was our turn, but I liked it better when we went to Aunt Lucy or Aunt Dorothy's house.  They lived on farms near Clearwater and for many of those years, it seemed to me that it took most of the day to drive there, although it's only about twenty-five miles.

My mom was the designated turkey baker, and I'd wake up on Thanksgiving morning surround by the aroma of turkey.  I doubt we ever missed the Macy's Christmas Parade back then, even as we packed up the turkey and other delights to head down the road to our holiday destination.  Everyone brought something to eat.  Aunt Dorothy's chocolate pie was always in high demand.  At her house, there was a huge solid wood table where the grown ups all sat.  There were usually at least a dozen of them, laughing and talking as they passed around the food.  Kids sat at card tables, sometimes on Sears catalogs to boost us to the right height.

When dinner was over and the women had cleaned up, while the men--mostly farmers--sat in the living room and talked throughout the football games, the decks of cards were pulled out of the drawer and the rousing games of pitch began.  The games lasted throughout most of the afternoon and into the evening, and I can still hear the sounds of their voices, whooping and hollering at each other over each hand dealt and each card played.

But it was later in the evening that became my favorite as we grew a little older.  My three female cousins and I made the table talk.  Yes, you read that right.  Just a few days ago we were discussing Ouija boards on this very blog, but a card table and three or four people can do the same thing.  One person on each side, if possible, hands flat on the table top, and concentrating so hard, the house should've rocked, we mentally lifted the table on one side/two legs.  Questions asked were usually yes or no, or sometimes involving counting.  One knock for yes, two knocks for no.  The adults eventually grew quiet, ending their last game of pitch to watch us.  Uncle Sterl (Aunt Lucy's husband) would hoot and boo at us, convinced that one of us had to be tilting the table.  We weren't.  "How can we?" we'd ask, and show him that the table could rise several inches...with no legs touching the floor.  He never did believe us.

I miss those holidays, and especially the talking table.  We kids grew up and had kids of our own, who now have kids of their own.  We made new traditions.  My great-aunts, great-uncles, parents, and even a few of the older cousins are gone, but those Thanksgiving memories will always be my favorite.


Joan Vincent said...

Rox I think we look back on these memories we're sharing with such affection because we had little responsibility at the time. As children we're much more open to joy and celebrating. Thanks for sharing.

Nina Sipes said...

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. A talking table. That's intriguing. From your description, I can imagine being there.
It's a good feeling.

Rox Delaney said...

Nina, two of those three female cousins saw the blog on Facebook and remembered the fun we had. One of them reminded me that the table rocked so hard one time that one of the legs broke.

My friend in Texas had the same experience with her family and a table. They called it 'table knocking.'

Pat Davids said...

I have some great holiday memories but not one includes a "talking table." What a hoot.

Penny Rader said...

I had an Aunt Dorothy, too, Rox, only we called her Aunt Dolly. For years and years we always went to Aunt Dolly's in Ark City for Thanksgiving. Gosh, I miss those Thanksgivings. No talking tables, though. Just a huge, long wooden I(I think) table filled with lots of relatives and superb food. And Santa's Toy Shop on tv. Thanks for sharing with us.

Starla Kaye said...

I think Joan is right, we look back now as adults at the memories we had as a child with fondness. Everything seemed so much more fun, easier, no responsibilities really. But if we'd been the adult then, our memories might be different. It was hard work pulling together a big meal and getting the house ready for a lot of company.

Yet, kind of like forgetting about the pain of childbirth when you're first holding that beautiful new baby, we tend to eventually forget the bad moments. The trouble of putting together a big meal with hours, days, of cooking isn't important when you see the smiles around you, when you hear the laughter and happiness at being together. The accidental spill on your freshly cleaned carpet isn't a big deal really. You can clean it again.

Anyway, I, too, like to think back to the big family reunions at holiday times in my past. My parents have been gone for years now. My daughter is grown up and lives half the country away from me. Still, she comes back for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And my siblings and I make it a point to be together for every holiday we can. We're making new memories to savor later in life.