November 21, 2016 by mamacravings
All 32 Thanksgivings of my past have been hosted by my grandparents. Tables overflowed with family and with food. Long-running traditions that spanned generations were presented proudly in Granny’s crystal bowl and on Great Aunt Mae’s first dishes. Thanksgiving was noisy and full of celebration.
From the sun room, the crash of Dominoes and my uncles’ competitiveness spilled boisterously into the other rooms. Cousins playing flitted from room to room, underfoot and gleeful. Aunts and my grandmother chatted in the kitchen as they finished the last preparations to our feast.
When it was time to eat, the crowd would gather as tightly as possible in my grandparents’ kitchen. Over the years, as our family grew, we began to spill from the kitchen into the dining room. The next generation was lifted onto their daddy’s shoulders and nuzzled at their mama’s breast.
With the entire family gathered around, my grandfather would begin with telling us of how proud he was of his brood. We would nod our thanks and whisper back, “but we wouldn’t be us without you, GranDaddy.” Then an uncle would bless our time together and our food. He would thank God for new graduations and new jobs and new marriages and new babies.
It was a time of thanks, a time that we sadly knew would end all too soon. GranDaddy was getting weaker. His spirit was as ornery and fiery as ever, but his body simply could no longer keep up. This past summer, we laid GranDaddy to rest. From then on, leading Thanksgiving would be passed down to his boys.
While my grandfather isn’t here with us to count blessings or to eat my mama’s chess pie, his legacy is strong. There are 3 boys, 13 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and another great grandson on the way.
There is no doubt that this Thanksgiving will be our family’s most difficult yet. But in our mourning are our memories. Beyond our loss his legacy continues. The head of the table will sit empty. And while no one can fill its void, his void, we can pass on his qualities to our own children. Fierce loyalty, unwavering faith, and unshakable persistence will be the stories we tell the next generation. We will tell them at Thanksgiving. We will tell them often. And we will never forget.