Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year, but since we have it every year, the story is fairly familiar. The reflections were rather new for me though, so here are mine.
It all begins with a few tentative calls right? A few suggestions of what Nana ought to bring this year. What you should bring, Mom. And Anna, and all the family begin to come together and decide who is making what.
As the day draws near, family starts flowing in, and kitchens heat up, there is a wonderfully (I’m not sure why, but it seems I really like to use that word) hurried and nostalgic air about. Mom is getting supplies, the pumpkin pies are out at Wal-Mart, and Nana is terribly worried about the whole thing. Anna is busy as a bee but never seems happier. That always seemed odd. Among all the work and you had to do and all the little problems you deal with why grandchildren run around making messes you will clean for week, where was your joy coming from? I think I understand a bit of that now. Even this little party with all pre-prepared food was a fair amount of work and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was doing something for friends. I was doing something with friends. It was hurried. It was work. It was maybe even a little stressful, but it was fun beyond description. It wasn’t work for pay; it was work because I wanted to. Because I could; for a smile, a conversation, and a table of friends.
There are always a few things you can count on; Nana will be late, there will be at least 5 people I don’t recognize, and the food overtakes the tables, countertops, patio, basement, and any other flat surface it can find. Nana, I found I was guilty of the exact same crime. I was going to be back before two. That didn’t happen. Maybe 2:50? Nope. I think we walked out the door around 3:15. An hour later, there we sat, stuffed as we could be; albeit lacking any stuffing. And there on the table sat 3 roast chickens, one and a half pumpkin pies, a tray of macaroni and cheese, half a bag of bread, and some mash potatoes. We could have double the number of guests and had extra. So from now on, if I ever give you a hard time, you can just remind me of this.
Papa says the prayer. You know, I haven’t ever spent much time thinking about that, and how much it means to him and to me. To thank God for everything that is truly important; those that we talk with, eat with, live with, and love. Food has often been such a focal point, especially as two or three rolls around and you haven’t eaten all day in preparation, but this is the first time I’ve been away during Thanksgiving. The food is wonderful, but only because of the people we share it with. In your prayers, Papa, I remember thanks for what we have and the food before us, but our family and friends take the main stage. I knew family and friends were always beyond value to you, and me too, but until recently in a more intangible way. They were always there. Separation may not have made the heart grow fonder since the depth was already there, it is conscious understanding of that distance has shown me. I didn’t pray over our meal, and as I write this I feel I should have even though it would have been a bit awkward for everyone there, being one of few Christians and all. So, I suppose this is my form of a prayer. A number of people asked me “Only 500 yen, is that it?” That’s it. Don’t worry about the money; I’m not. I thank God for all that I have. I thank God for all the opportunities I’ve been given. But most of all, I thank God for people. For family. For friends. For people I don’t even really know (something surprisingly common even at family Thanksgivings). There is nothing more wonderful; only people can fascinate you, identify with you, and cause a smile with nothing more than their own. I look forward to hearing you pray next year Papa.
It ended as all good Thanksgivings should; in jokes, stories, conversation, and a strong desire to take a nap.