A Different Kind of Thanksgiving Where Tradition Gave Way to Memories and Something New
Dad just turned 80 this month and, for the first time ever, neither he or I had anyone to celebrate Thanksgiving with. My kids were doing their own thing with their significant others' families, Marie-Anne was working and Bonnie and Danny, my brother and sister, had their own celebrations outside the immediate family nucleus. It was bound to happen eventually.
So here I was and there dad was. At 80, he's still snow blowing his own driveway and cleaning his own roof, despite my protests. I was doing the same this morning.
Dad knew I was taking him somewhere for Thanksgiving dinner. He knew it was a restaurant in Augusta and didn't ask where. I surprised him, pulling into Lisa's. He hadn't been in since it was Mike's, many years ago.
Dad never was much of a restaurant guy. He likes McDonald's, Red Barn and, now, Lisa's. That's about it. In fact, had I not called him and asked him to go to dinner with me, he would have been just as happy to stay at home and have one of his $3.99 pizzas from Hannaford. That's the truth. But I wanted to spend time with him.
Though dad's happy with solitude, he sure loves people. Mom was his world, literally, and when she passed in 2006, that was the last time anyone but him would live in the house we grew up in. But not to worry because that's all good with him. He gets lonely but he's never alone. He has a strong faith and solid church family that he's involved with.
So anyway, he really enjoyed meeting and talking with a GREAT team of people today at Lisa's. Lisa, herself, was helping get out the meals along with our waitress, Maureen(Moe), Tina, Howard (Lisa's dad) and others. He was in his element with smiling women engaging us in conversation. He grinned the whole time we were there.
As we ate our fantastic meal of turkey, stuffing, gravy, rolls, ham, peas, carrots, cranberry sauce and turnip, we reminisced about past Thanksgivings. We talked about how good the house would smell starting early in the morning. Mom would be up cooking the turkey and getting everything ready while my siblings and I walked around grazing on nuts and snacks, watching the parade and asking, "when's it going to be ready?" It was a busy, noisy house...and it smelled wonderful. That carried on even after we had significant others and children.
As we spoke, I was there in my mind, seeing my dear mother shooing us away so she could get things done.
Today when I went to the house to get dad, I knew the memories would rush back as soon as I walked in. The kitchen was dark and quiet, save for the hum of a small oil pump feeding the heater. The smell was a mixture of bananas, which dad keeps on the table, and stale coffee. No parade on tv. No turkey in the oven. No "mama" running around getting dinner prepared.
This year we did something new. It didn't replace the times we had as a family in years past. It couldn't. But it was nice. Another good memory that I'll always treasure. Smiling, happy people all around. An absolutely fantastic meal (even the pearl onions in the peas and the turnip, both of which I ate for the first time). And my dad. It was a great Thanksgiving.