Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A lot to be thankful for

Last night I moved my grandmother's furniture into her assisted living apartment. After suffering a stroke this past summer she's been in an old folks' home, acclimating herself to a furnished apartment. After realizing this "transition" might be more permanent, she was ready to get rid of the hotel decor and bring in her worn recliner, familiar drawers and their contents and other furnishings to make the place more like home.

I hadn't been in my grandmother's house (where my father's side had lived since first coming to Lawrence, KS) since her hospital stay, and the immediate rush of smells, lived-in comfort and memories hit me like a U-Haul. These memories were heightened because this week is Thanksgiving, a holiday that was made famous by grandmothers such as mine. I thought of countless family gatherings and her amazing cooking.

As we paraded her furniture out the front door I grieved the relocation of the chairs I'd napped in, table I ate many Thanksgiving meals at and the plastic-covered lamps that still look fresh off the Sears showroom floor. In the back of my mind, I knew the next time I moved these items she might not be at the other end to make sure I remembered to "lift with my legs."

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's become a holiday focused on family. Presents don't enter into the mix. Resolutions don't loom. Sorrows stay below the surface. It embodies all that you should be thankful for: family, friends and food (and my cousin's wine cellar).

My grandmother is too shaky to haul her famous turkey from the oven and my grandfather's dish-washing skills were retired many years ago. Their dining room table is missing two extender leafs and sits in the corner of my grandmother's new residence. The house now is empty.

But, holidays don't create memories and furnishings don't create warmth. People are responsible for the memories and souls for the warmth. And I realized today, as I limped my sore back up the office stairs, that wherever those people are is where Thanksgiving can occur. Even in an old folks’ home.


Blogger Esue said...

This is quite possibly the first monologue I have ever heard proceed from your mind without a single trace of sarcasm...refreshing! I didn't know it possible...hope you have a good one man!

7:12 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Risley said...

Grandparents are golden, as is Thanksgiving. You've written one of the best tributes to both in this post. My grandparents are gone, but I'll always remember Thanksgiving at their houses. Thanks for the post.

8:47 PM  

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