True Stories of the Holiday in America
We all know that any family gathering can go in multiple directions, ours for example, last year. My story, the day before Thanksgiving, 2010.
It was an ordinary Thanksgiving Eve, oftentimes we eat dinner a day or two before the holiday because someone has to work, others have to visit a dozen other homes for a sizable feast. We had gone to my sister’s house to meet up with everyone for our first feast that Thanksgiving. We ate, enjoyed, prayed, gave thanks. At this point in time, Mom was in the nursing home so she had to be taken back before a certain time. That was because she was a full resident there, but was there for physical therapy, there’s a different set of rules for that situation.
We were stuffed and headed back home under heavy fog, 2 chocolate pies, a pumpkin pie and a cheesecake in the back window of the car. Snoring emitting from the kids.
It’s after we got home when everything as we knew it then would change. Our reasons for being Thankful suddenly became very serious.
We all retired to a corner of the house to relax and just take it easy. It just didn’t end that way. My husband began cleaning a pistol, he somehow overlooked a shell in the barrel. The gun went off and shot him in the lower right side. The noise was deafening, the loudest gun shot I’ll ever hear in my life. As I hear him shout in pain and my daughter scream that dad was shot. I ran into the living room as if to make myself believe what had just happened.
To make a long story short, we tried to keep him from going into shock until an ambulance could get here, we eventually loaded him into one of our vehicles to meet the ambulance. Two hospitals and nearly 4 hours later, they take him for surgery. As I sat in the waiting room, crying, praying and pacing, I knew that year, Thanksgiving in our home would never look the same. I had taped my husbands wedding ring to his finger before they took him back for the exploratory surgery, he was awake, we talked and prayed.
We had a lot to be thankful for as the sun rose and the clanging noises of the hospital brought me to my senses. He was in a lot of pain, but he was still with us.
This year, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving without my Mom being with us physically. This too is hard. Knowing that her chair will be empty, but our hearts will be full, our minds thinking of her. Feeling an ache that’s deeper than words can describe.
Reading through this book has helped me, reading other stories of families almost feeling the chaos as I read, it brings a sense of warmth and humor — Just what I need this year! I hope you’ll enjoy this book as much as I have!
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Not every Thanksgiving in America is a folk-art painting. They are as varied as Americans themselves, and run the spectrum of emotion and experience – from as rural as watching Grandma slaughter the holiday bird by the barn, to the traditional with family football games in the yard, and to the modern with multicultural meals complete with eggrolls.
In Thanksgiving Tales: True Stories of the Holiday in America, 48 writers from across the United States share their individual stories and memories. But, whether held in a country farmhouse, amid the frantic pace of New York City, or in a restaurant, there are a number of common elements.
These stories reveal how seemingly simple things – like the passing of a tradition to the next generation, sitting next to Grandpa, favorite foods and recipes, or certain sounds, sights and smells can have special meaning and leave warm and indelible memories.
Some of the stories describe the chaos and mishaps of meal preparation, family arguments and first-time hosts, all crises then, but now looked upon with laughter. Other stories recount family traditions, meaningful moments, memorable guests and hosts, remembering those no longer with us, being alone or out and out hating the holiday.
Thanksgiving Tales is a reflection of Americans, as much as it is a look at the holiday.