Thanksgiving is our favorite Holiday. My wife and I come from different backgrounds, but the one thing that we always had in common was our love of this one true family holiday. It's a time for families to take a break from their sometimes hectic lives, to sit and enjoy each other's company, catch up on what has gone on this past year, and reflect on how much we truly have to be thankful for. We often complain about things that we do not have, or things that seem to irritate us all year long. That's just the natural, human thing to do. To take the time to reflect on all the good things that we do have on this day, is somehow fitting and it makes one realize that the US is a great place to call home.
I take time on this day, in between chopping, stirring, roasting, and the frequent glasses of wine, to reflect on the Thanksgivings of my younger years. They were something to remember, because the whole Zaffino famiglia would gather at my Grandparent's home in New Rochelle. My mother would, along with my aunts, help Grandma make the ravioli for the second course. They would do it on big boards in various bedrooms and the kitchen. Fresh, and delicious, along with my Grandma's home made sauce... heaven. The men would sit or stand around, drinking their drinks, smoking if that's what they did, and tell jokes. The women who weren't working on the dinner, would sit and talk along with them, laughing, singing, and carrying on. There was so much love and joy in those Thanksgiving get togethers. The eating would start just before noon, and carry on, off and on, all day, until the turkey was served around 6 or 7 in the evening. The glow on my grandpa's face at having his big family all around him was something to see. He was the picture of happy serenity. My Grandma, although working the whole week before and all day on the day, never appeared tired. Just happy to have the family around. After dinner, there would be nuts and assorted dried fruits... the pies came later on. The adults played cards and board games, while the children colored or played their games. We would go home very late, tired but happy.
When my grandparents died, there were few huge gatherings like that ever again, although the family would 'Make the rounds' on the holidays, visiting each others homes for a holiday toast. If they did it today, everyone would be in jail for dui, but those were different times. and accidents were, miraculously, non existent. We enjoyed a scaled down version of those early feasts, but it was still all about family and being together.... Family Time.
After I returned from the Marine Corps and my parents moved from New Rochelle to Mahopac, I continued to go to their house for the holidays, bringing my family along. After the end of my first marriage, and my subsequent second marriage, I added two step children and a new baby to our family, and we continued to get together with my brother and my sisters and my sister's family at my mother and father's house for the holiday. It was a tradition that everyone enjoyed. It was a tradition that everyone needed. When that ended with my father's death, and my mother moving across the country, I was at a loss at first. I was working for New York Telephone, and I worked on the holiday, in those early years. The first Thanksgiving in our home, I came home at eleven thirty at night to find a full turkey dinner that my wife had cooked especially for me. I was profoundly touched.
The next year, we had my father in law, and my brother in law and his wife down from Albany for Thanksgiving. As the years flew by, our house was the place to be for Thanksgiving. We watched the kids grow each year an eventually go off on their own, but we still had our Thanksgiving get togethers. My brother in law and sister in law stopped coming a few years ago. They had moved to South Jersey, and it was just too much of a trip. We still had our children and their families. It was always a great day for family. Like I said, we love Thanksgiving.
Tomorrow, we will enjoy our Thanksgiving together. Not as full a house as it used to be, but we won't be alone, either. I will reflect again, as I just have, on years past, and raise a glass of wine in tribute to all those wonderful family members who are now gone, but have left me such a wonderful, rich legacy of memories. I hope that you all have good memories to reflect on, too, and I wish you, one and all, a very Happy Thanksgiving.