Like that one extra slice of pumpkin pie that I probably shouldn’t eat, Thanksgiving is a holiday stuffed with memories.
The first Thanksgiving I remember was probably at the age of 4 or 5. We were driving to my grandmother’s house in Annapolis in the family car, which at that time was a VW bug.
That Thanksgiving was a scene from which movies are made. All my aunts, uncles and cousins were there with us kids confined to the smaller kids table, which was just fine with us.
After the meal, it was time to set up the tree, which was a treat for me because I got to help with the electric train that curved around the living room. I spent mindless hours playing with that train and learned for the first time, perhaps, the power of aggravation.
When I wanted to get a rise out of granddad, I’d drive the train too fast around a curve and it would crash every time.
“Jamie! You’re going to destroy that train,” he’d bark at me from his recliner.
Several years later, it was a much different Thanksgiving scene when we went to visit my other set of grandparents in Florida. These grandparents had owned two houses in the D.C. area, but sold them both to buy an RV and travel around the country – which they did for three years.
So this Thanksgiving saw us traveling to a KOA near St. Augustine, Fla., where grandma had been staying for a stretch to catch her breath from her coast-to-coast adventures.
It was arguably the most sardine-like Thanksgiving in the history of celebrations as seven of us crammed into an RV and waited as grandma prepared lasagna and deviled eggs of all things. For the record, no one in the history of mankind has ever made deviled eggs quite like grandma.
Afterwards we strolled on the beach on a comfortable Florida afternoon and hiked down to a charming lighthouse overlooking the sea.
It was a much different scene for me several years later when, as a young teen, I spent Thanksgiving alone with my dad. As a child of now-divorced parents, I was thrust into the awkward predicament of alternating holidays with mom and dad.
This particular Thanksgiving was my time to be with dad. For reasons I don’t remember, my sister wasn’t with us so it was just the two of us.
As the day progressed, I wondered what dad was going to do about the Thanksgiving meal. He surely wasn’t going to cook all that stuff.
He surprised me with a trip to Shoney’s, which was having an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving feast. We sat and talked for probably two hours, just us, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable times I had with my dad.
I guess the moral of this story is it doesn’t matter if you’re in a spacious house, a tiny RV, or a Shoney’s booth, holidays are about spending time with friends and family and enjoying good company. Happy Thanksgiving!