Thanksgiving 1992. I was a sophomore in college. I worked part-time for a local grocery store in Boone. My name was on the holiday work schedule. Bummer. No trip home for me. I was forced to endure my first Thanksgiving away from family. Blah.
Such an occasion is inevitable, of course, but that foreknowledge made the realization no less depressing, at least for me.
You see, I hail from two large families. I have two younger sisters, a brother and step-sister. On my dad’s side I am the oldest of about 18 grandchildren spawned from eight pairs of uncles and aunts. I enjoy the same rank on my mom’s side, oldest of about a dozen grandkids from the five children my grandparents brought into this world. All told, that’s a lot of people. And every Thanksgiving each family got together for food, fun and fighting … for that rare empty seat on Papa’s couch. When you’re a kid, times don’t get much better.
Fast forward to age 19. No family, and few friends since most had no holiday employment obligations. No commotion. No loud laughs. No bowls of Memaw’s special banana pudding. Bah. Hum-bug.
My mom did the unexpected. She piled my two sisters in the car Thanksgiving morning and spent close to five hours on the road driving to Boone. Once in town, we all four went to the only food place open that day – Shoney’s. We had a ball! Afterwards, the family hung out briefly at the apartment before returning to the road. No complaints. Just hugs.
Love has several definitions. Add this to the list – Spending 10 hours on the road to enjoy two hours of Thanksgiving with your son at Shoney’s.
I am blessed.