Friday, November 25, 2011

THE TABLE

The table was made out of dark wood and looked heavy.  It had massive legs that held it up off of the floor.  It was the center piece of Grandma Hill's dining room.  It seemed that everything that went on in that house centered around the dining room table.

It was where Grandpa held court when there was trouble between his children in the early years.  It was where report cards from school were discussed.  The table was where thousands of checker games were played and hundreds of Monopoly games were played.  Strange card games with titles as "Rook" and "Pit" were carried out on this table.  Grandpa did his writing on this this table.  He would write poems and letters to the local newspaper there.  The surface of the table never seemed to wear out over the years even with all of this activity going on upon it.

The accessories in the dining room for the table included a china cabinet and a buffet,  Grandma's bell collection around the plate rail and my uncle's violin hanging on the wall.  One whole side of the dining room were windows that looked out on the flower garden.  A window seat went the length of the wall sitting just below the windows.

It was a beautiful room.  Grandma had entered a competition one time with Better Homes and Garden in which she described the table and the room and the importance it had held over the years for the family.  I went over and took pictures of the dining room for her to send in with her article.  she didn't win, but in my mind she captured the importance of the table and what surrounded it wonderfully.  This room was indeed the central control room of the house.  It was where anything important occurred.

It was at the holiday season when the table really showed it's importance.  Grandma would fix big Easter dinners that would be consumed at the table as well as even bigger Christmas dinners.  Both of these events made my Grandmother's talent at cooking and setting a table shine.  But the most important day of the year for the table was Thanksgiving.

There were not any other trappings during the Thanksgiving holiday except for Thanksgiving itself.  There were no Easter egg hunts or Christmas tales of what we all got for Christmas to take away from what the table's role was.  At Thanksgiving it was all about the table.

Grandma would spend all day cooking getting things ready.  The best plates would be pulled out and set upon the great table.  Standard dishes would be made that we could not get anywhere else.  Her homemade cranberry sauce along with her creamed potatoes and a small dish of oysters.  She enjoyed cooking and cooking for the Thanksgiving meal just brought that much more joy in her heart.

The Hill family took Thanksgiving very seriously.  The family would gather that night and food filled every inch of the table.  Grandpa always sat at the head of the table.  As the family grew, smaller tables would be set as accessories to the main table in the living room.  The important thing was that the family was together ans together for one purpose. That purpose was to be thankful.

Lest we forget what the purpose of that day was, my Grandpa would send up a prayer before dinner that reiterated what that day was about.  Thankfulness for the entire family each and every member whether they were able to be there or not.  He would thank God for our good fortune at having each other.  He would be thankful for all that we were provided.  The food, our shelter and the ability to help others.  He would be thankful that God had looked down on this family and protected us and provided us with what we needed, not what we wanted.

Televisions were seldom turned on at Thanksgiving.  Instead the entertainment may be a board game or card game or just spending time talking with those you loved.  Talk of what had happened over the past year and summarizing the events were often the topic of a lot of talks.  Politics was probably the hottest topic of all every Thanksgiving.  I can remember sitting on the window seat while my uncles and grandpa discussed, read argued here, the politics of the day.  I sat and quietly listened and received my first lessons in history and in political thought.

It was tradition for Grandma to leave a few things out on the table after dinner was over.  Turkey was always left out for a while as well as bread and other foods that could be eaten with fingers.  This was important because while all this talking made people hungry.  The uncles were the worst culprits.  They would pick at food during their "discussions" on politics  The thinking and making a point would bring up their appetite.  The worst of these was my Uncle Melvin.  After dinner he would hover around the table talking and listening to his brothers and his father picking at food the whole time.  I think he must have eaten a whole second meal and a part of a third before the evening came to a close.

As I sat at my mother's table yesterday for a small Thanksgiving meal I could see parallels to past Thanksgivings at Grandma and Grandpa's   It was a much smaller scale and there were no discussions involving politics and the food was picked up and put away.  There was not any lingering and picking of the food after the meal was done.  It was just over.

Over the years, the Thanksgiving holiday has lessened in it's meaning.  I tried to watch the Macy's parade Thanksgiving morning and saw very little of it.  The televised parade has become a long commercial for the networks shows and Broadway shows.  Very little of the parade itself was actually shown on the television.  I turned it off halfway through it.

The commercialization of Christmas has over shadowed and over taken the Thanksgiving meaning.  Thanksgiving has become lost since the stores and people in general have started the Christmas season the day after Halloween.  It is all about money and there is no money to be made on Thanksgiving.

It is a shame really.  When I look back on Thanksgivings in the past and the meaning that Thanksgiving meant and the way we were taught to truly be thankful for all that this country has given us, all that God has blessed us with.  All of this seems to have faded into the background.

We have one day now to show our thankfulness and to think of what we are thankful for.  There is no way you can think of all that you have been blessed with in one day.  Those weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving are just as important as thanksgiving Day itself.  It should be used as a time to reflect and prepare to truly give thanks and be thankful for our blessings.

I was pleased to see a lot of my Facebook friends give a reason for being thankful every day since Halloween.  It was a good exercise for all of them as well as me.  We have so much to be thankful for in this country even with the hardships that we face right now as a nation.  This country is still that city on the hill and each and every one of us are blessed to be able to live here.

Over the past year I can point to many things that I am grateful for.  connections remade with family members.  Still having my job even though the company went through some very difficult times.  My wife and son who watch out for me.  I have had food and shelter and have been able to give help to others when it is needed.  I was able to make three trips down south this year.  One for a funeral, one for a wedding and one because my sister needed someone to be there in a rough time for her.  I am thankful that I was able to make those trips because each of them were important.

I am thankful that I have those memories of Thanksgivings past and being able to be truly thankful. I am thankful I can still have memories of those that are gone who influenced my life so greatly.  Memories of both my Grandmothers, of my Grandpa, of Uncles Duane, Dan and Bill, Buster and Melvin and Aunts Jane and June among others.

I do long for the days when we have a few weeks to think of our blessings and to be thankful for them before we begin the maddening Christmas season.  I am afraid those days are gone though.

No comments:

Post a Comment