Thanksgiving was once again magical 

Published 2:42 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My husband had an awesome great aunt who we called Auntie.

As soon as we were married, we always went to spend Thanksgiving with Auntie and as our four children came along, they loved going there also.

She lived in an old log cabin in the Ozark Mountains by herself and when we went, we’d gather her accumulated dirty laundry, which she kept in the bath tub between our visits. Also we burned her trash in the backyard and my husband fixed anything needing fixing. It was definitely our family’s best holiday and even after her passing, it remained our family’s best day of the year, all because of our Auntie who was very old and who loved to cook huge meals for us right up until when she became too ill to live there any more.

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But three years ago to the day (two days before Thanksgiving), my beloved husband died of cancer. Being the loving kind of family we are, we went right ahead two days later and had Thanksgiving dinner celebration, even though none of us wanted to do anything but cry. Oh, how empty that day felt without him but, you know, he would have loved the fact that we tried to carry on the loving tradition two days later.

The next year, in spite of everyone’s best intentions, we held the family dinner at my daughter’s home.  She is a marvelous hostess but there was a somber tone about it. It was like he (Gene) was there again. We even served his favorite wine and dishes and though we laughed and sang “Alice’s Restaurant” around the table and my son in law, who is a minister, led us in prayer — well, the feeling of family joy was just not there. I think everyone felt this but nobody spoke of it.

Year two came along and, once again, we had our Thanksgiving feast and family gathering at my daughter Phoebe’s house and, I hate to say this, but Gene’s absence was felt once again. I wondered if it would ever pass and allow us the great love and joy we all always felt at Thanksgiving.

But this year, things changed. My wonderful grandson, Kyle, and his beautiful new wife, Rachel, recently bought an old house in the mountains and fixed it up with the help of the whole family. You should see the spectacular results. I mean, it is breathtaking. The family went there. Everyone made and brought food while Kyle smoked the turkey and Rachel did the cranberries and stuffing.

Now, it wasn’t any one thing that changed Thanksgiving. Sure, the house was different but basically, the food was just as traditional, so I could not tell you why the day was so filled with love and laughter and joy, but it was. And it was not that we love and miss Gene any less but somehow, we all found our peace and brought it with us that day.

Could it be that when the next generation stepped up to lead and carry on the family traditions, it set a new way to show us that life does go on? It was sort of a quiet shift in responsibility. I saw it all before me and, you know what? The sad component of our family Thanksgivings disappeared like a sweet gift Gene bestowed upon us.

I cannot tell you how blessed I feel this year. Thanksgiving was magical for me as I enjoyed every person there and even the family dog. I need to thank my two grandkids, Kyle and Rachel, for making this possible.

The view from the mountains is wondrous.