THANKSGIVING Like most other families, Thanksgiving has always meant the gathering of our family and close friends. The day always began by attending Mass at St. Joseph Parish and the giving of foodstuffs for those less fortunate. What a great tradition of families bringing the donations of food, etc. to the front of church as part of the Offertory procession. Adults, children, young couples and old, all taking part. It just seemed like the best way to start off Thanksgiving Day.
While growing up, our family was blessed that all the immediate family lived close-by therefore making it simple to gather everyone. No worry about long distance travel. During my grade school years, my oldest brother Ervin lived next door, Buddy, five houses away and Frankie (the rebel) a mile away and Vern, my next oldest brother was still at home. As the years passed, family members spread out more, some even moving out of Campbell County! The subsequent two generations have become a more mobile society just like the rest of our country, some even finding their ways to Pennsylvania, Alabama, Michigan and California.
Back to Thanksgiving. There was always a huge meal prepared by my Mother (Rie) mostly from scratch. As my Mother became older her daughters-in-law either brought covered dishes or actually helped to prepare the meal at our house. Cars were always parked as far as possible to the top of our driveway to make room for everyone. Our driveway held only six cars so undoubtedly a few cars always found their way into the front yard. It was fun for me to watch out the front windows and door as people arrived.
There were usually 20-25 people who sat down to dinner, quite a few for a small house with an even smaller dining room. This was years before the advent of the great room open concept. Between our dining room and living room was a five foot wide opening which allowed two smaller tables to be joined to the dining room table which then made for one long table extended through two rooms. According to Rie, everyone needed to be seated at one table or at least one large table consisting of three. Once the table cloths were on no one could tell the difference. She was right, it was great to have everyone gathered at one table in one sitting. My three oldest brothers had already started their families and had children only a few years younger than me. Their children were closer to me than nieces and nephews and more like distant sisters and brothers. A close-knit family to say the least, not only geographically but also in relationships.
For family, faith and community, I will always be thankful.