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Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the
Hudson Valley


  • 11/19/2014 3:27 PM
    Message # 3154603

    I can't believe we are just over a week away from Thanksgiving. This was one of my favorite holidays growing up. My clearest memories are of piling into the car to drive up to Massachusetts to spend the long weekend at the family farm, affectionately known simply as "The Farm" (creative, I know!)

    With its creepy cellar, narrow ancient stairs, wide expanse of yard perfect for snow forts or leaf piles, depending on the weather, and the lack of beds that necessitated all us children sleeping together on two pull-out couches in my grandfather's study, it was the perfect place for an old-fashioned mid-afternoon feast.

    I can so easily remember the game playing and pizza eating of the Wednesday night. Then the actual holiday, dressed in our nice clothes, playing cars and as we got older video games while the adults worked in the kitchen mashing potatoes, struggling to make the perfect gravy, ladling out soup. I remember the debates about who got to sit at the head of the kids' table, once there were too many of us to sit at one large table together (I can still feel the loss of that togetherness). I can remember the days that followed, playing outside all day, endless leftovers, more games at night, the famous (well, famous in our family) Hall of Thanksgiving play we would subject the adults to year after year. I remember much of my childhood fondly, but Thanksgiving stands out. All of us, together, eating and enjoying each others' company. Even those days when all the moms would disappear to go shopping (a stereotype, I'm sure, but completely true for our family) and the dads would take us to the movies. That moment when, as the only girl in my generation, I finally wanted to go with the moms.

    And I think to now. And the more recent years now that The Farm was long since sold and we meet for Thanksgiving in various places-- NYC, Tennessee, Cape Cod. I think about some of those traditions hold-- inevitably someone forces the Annual Football Game. Ethan and his young cousin play in the yard. My cousins and I are in the kitchen mashing potatoes. My mother and her sisters still like to go shopping only now I usually drive them around. We still play games at night and eat pizza on Wednesday and feast through the weekend.

    But it isn't the same. Not only because The Farm is gone, not only because we change location year to year and every other year my generation all goes to be with their spouse's families. It's not the same because I am no longer a child. My generation is no longer the youngest. My grandfather's slightly sour expression and my grandmother's slightly glazed eyes no longer sit at the table with us. It isn't the same because i am no longer a child.

    This is as it should be. This change has brought all the joy of my child, all the joy of new family members that have married my cousins, all the joy of independence and newness and a willingness to adapt that is a life skill I am grateful for. But it's also sad. Change, we all know, can be so hard. And there will always be that nostalgia for what once was. The trick is to then create what is. To think about the memories I want Ethan and his cousins to have when they look back-- I want them to be able to remember something with the kind of sorrow and gratitude and joy that I feel when I remember those Thanksgivings at The Farm. I want him to remember the warmth of family togetherness, the sounds of his adults laughing, the smells of good food made with love, the late night raucousness of board games, the rough and tumble football games and the love that can happen when people are together.

    I also wish this for each of you. May your Thanksgivings this year be full of old memories that bring joy, and the creation of new memories, full of love, to cherish in the years to come.

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