Goodnight, John-Boy. Immortal words in my mind since the TV show The Waltons was my favorite show of that era. Maybe my favorite show of all time. I loved the family dynamic featured on that program and how it played out each week on the 1 hour drama. I always wanted to have a family just like the Walton's had.
Thanksgiving has just passed and I spent some time reflecting on the changes in how our family now celebrates the holiday. We went for our 3rd annual Thanksgiving buffet at the Oyster House restaurant in downtown Olympia, Washington. It was so good. They have roast turkey and all the trimmings plus roast beef, baked ham and salmon, and enough desserts set out to feed the entire town. There were the usual suspects present again this year....all 7 of us. We only have our little, immediate family close to us these days. Bruce and I are the only ones that really enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner anymore so I've given up cooking it. Living in the motorhome, too, would make it a bit of a challenge to cook and host the feast. Therefore....away we go to the Oyster House. As I said, it was the 3rd annual.
I was remembering back to previous Thanksgiving meals through the years. We all lived in Southern California at the time. When I was a kid it was a pretty big deal for the "woman-folk" in our family to get the feast ready. Turkey's back in those days seemed to take a lot longer to roast than they do now. If we were having the family over to our house for dinner I know my Mom had to get up early and start work on that big bird so it could be ready for carving around 2 pm. A lot of the times we went to my Aunt Anne and Uncle Pat's house for big holiday meals. She is an excellent cook and loves to bake also. Back in the 50's and 60's there were usually around 12 to 15 people for dinner. The kitchen was a buzz of activity as Aunt Anne, Aunt Kathryn, Grandma and my Mom got everything ready and all the side dishes prepared. Aunt Kathryn made the world's best creamed onions and they were always a hit. Besides the usual pumpkin and apple pies Aunt Anne often made Apple Dumplings. Yummy! Aunt Anne didn't fix everything, of course. Each family brought something along to contribute to the feast. Grandpa usually got the honor of carving the bird as we all waited to dig in.
As I grew up and eventually got married, Bruce joined in all the festivities. Pretty soon our 2 children enjoyed these family gatherings as well. A lot of wonderful, happy memories were made at each special meal. Of course, being a family with lots of women there were times of bickering and squabbling about some issue or another. Sometimes someone would end up in tears (oh, brother). However, the hurt feelings never lasted and before we knew it things were humming along once again. After the huge meal was eaten and we could hardly move, the men would head out for the usual walk around the block to wear off some of those excess calories. Truth be told, they would have had to walk from Southern California to Texas to work off that meal.
During the 1980's the family sort of went off to different parts of the country to live and the huge family gatherings were no more. Never again did all of us have the chance to be together for Thanksgiving. Sometimes a few of us would get together but it just wasn't the same. Even the Waltons grew up and most of them moved from Walton's Mountain to different locations. I wonder if John-Boy missed those Thanksgiving meals with his family?
For Bruce and I, all of our parents and grandparents have passed on. We are the old folks in the family now. Unfortunately, we won't have the tradition of holiday celebrations with a whole bunch of family present to pass on to our grandchildren. But we can pass along other memories and they will always know the joy and happiness of being part of a loving family...no matter how small it may be.
Assateague Island National Seashore
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