There is snow on the ground in Vermont. It is fine. We are not going anywhere. I haven’t even gotten my snow tires on yet. Too early to tell what the significance of snow before Thanksgiving will mean for this winter but it is 2020. We are bracing ourselves…
As promised, I sent out an email to my small family requesting, we plan a Zoom virtual visit right around the time we would be ordering pizza on Thanksgiving Day. Quickly the positive responses came without a comment or reflection on my idea around the time of our call. Just shared common family knowledge.
My father loved his family and food! A grocer by trade for the majority of his life. Food played an ever-present role in our lives growing up. My mother could cook. Oh man could she! Holidays were her super bowl events. She would plan and cook for weeks.
Arriving at my childhood home over the holidays there would always be a festive wreath on the front door and the flower boxes seasonally adorned. As you entered the breezeway on the way to the back door we would pass by the steam filled kitchen window that seemed to intensify the fragrance of the food being prepared for dinner. My mom busy with her culinary multitasking would notice our arrival and call to my father “Lew the kids are here!” What strikes me about this so many years later is that this warm and welcoming statement applied me and my family, to my older sister and her family and my brother and his. It was generic but it wasn’t as they loved us equally and endlessly. We would be “the kids” always and forever. I am forever ok with that…
The back door led to the heart of our home, the kitchen. A small solidly built white ranch house built by my father with the help of a few other family members. Our home and that of those who also needed a stay. My mother moved exactly one house lot away from the farmhouse she grew up in. My sister lovingly and accurately notes that everything was loud in our little home. It was true. A herculean effort was required to flip a light switch and the sound resonated throughout the 3-bedroom ranch. A small home that was filled to the brim with people and love.
Holidays were special because my mother made sure they were. The food was incredible. The feast started as soon as you entered the house. The kitchen table filled with before dinner treats magically transitioning later in the day to after dinner drinks and a few special delights.
The dining room table set buffet style. The maple table protected by a perfectly starched autumnal tablecloth while displaying one incredible homemade dish after the other. We traveled around the table initially with an empty Franciscan’s ware Desert Rose dinner plate but that was short lived. The pattern soon was hidden by a bounty of food. All of our childhood favorites both individually and combined appeared on this beautifully set dining table. She aimed to please because she loved us deeply.
We would eat, laugh and playfully tease one another. By right we didn’t need to eat another morsel for days. Dinner, a pause for football and then the dessert table would be set while coffee was brewing, Grand Mariner liqueur and Sambuca on the kitchen table for those interested.
Comfortable with one another and the day that we had shared. Afternoon would turn into early evening. My father who loved having us all around him wanted to hold onto the day and the many special moments. Somewhere around early evening he would ask if anyone was interested in ordering from J & D Pizza? Simply a want and a request to keep us all exactly as we were for as long as he could extend it for. Precisely the love I miss and will hold close to my heart this Thanksgiving Day. We will have a virtual Thanksgiving Day dessert Zoom call somewhere around the time we would be ordering J &D Pizza.
“Traditions are the memories of those before us, breathed to life when we carry them on.”
― Kennedy Ryan, The Rebel King