By Ellen Andersen
Next week is Thanksgiving, a time when we look back over the past year and celebrate what we’re grateful for. One thing I’m most thankful for is my family. We’ve always gotten together at Grandma’s house. The family’s changed over the years with the grandkids getting married and having kids. Now some of the great grandkids are married too.
Still, traditions continue. Everyone brings something for a potluck of everyone’s favorite foods. Turkey (of course), stuffing, cranberry sauce–both canned and homemade (there an on-going debate in my family as to which is the “real” kind). Then there’s mashed potatoes, an appetizer that always illustrates Aunt Mina’s creativity, rolls, cornbread, fruit salad, hot veggies, deviled eggs, and several pies. Festivities typically start around noon that day, with people arriving from all over California, where most of my family lives. We travel from South Carolina to be there. It’s a long way, but always worth it, as we only get to see the whole family once a year.
After a large meal, meal everyone goes for a walk even though it’s getting dark. The cool air helps wake us up, countering the effects of the tryptophan in the turkey. At least that’s the theory. It works to some extent.
Charades is a family tradition each year for us. We form two teams (guys vs. girls) and each team comes up with movies, books, songs, and TV shows for someone on the other team to act out without saying anything or making any noises. Everyone has up to three minutes for their team to come up with the right answer. There’s always lots of laughter, teasing, and good-natured competitiveness. In recent years, we’ve had additional games such as Fish Bowl and a Factoid Game. Whatever the details, it’s guaranteed to be fun.
So, how about you? What does Thanksgiving mean to you? How do you celebrate the holiday? I’d love to hear your stories.
In 2011, I had to have surgery on my left foot and it required me to both stay home and have someone drive me around for a six-week period. My friend Janet, whom I had only known for a short period of time, stepped right up to help me.
I am a widow with no children or kinfolk in the Tennessee Valley area. At the time, Janet was a salesperson and had to drive to around to various doctors for her business. She took me to and from my surgery, and while I initially had to stay home for two weeks, checked up on me to make sure I had all I needed.
After staying home for my two-week period, Janet picked me up from my home, took me to work, and brought me back when my day was done. Additionally, since we go to the same Catholic church, I would ride with her to attend Mass.
Janet went beyond what anyone else would have done. She extended herself, in a time when I most needed help. I will always be grateful to her for kindness. Saying thank you will never be enough and to this day, she and I are best friends. Janet epitomizes friendship and I would not have it any other way.
A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. She has a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services. She’s active in her church and community. She is currently writing a book on leadership.