Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Gathering Together by Jo Ann Brown

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Not only is it the official kick-off to the holiday season (and has football on throughout the day!), but it focuses on two things I really love—family and feasting. Oh, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, whose ending has always been the signal to put the turkey in the oven. I can’t forget that!
Our family has a long tradition of getting together for Thanksgiving. When I was younger, my mother’s parents and her older brother always joined us to share the meal. Or almost always. One year when I was in high school and we lived about ten miles from my grandparents, we got more than 30" of snow overnight on Thanksgiving Eve. At our house, we had the turkey and all the fixings. At my grandmother’s house were the desserts. My dad tried a couple of times to get out to pick them up, but the roads hadn’t been plowed yet, so he had to turn around. We got together for leftovers and lots of laughs the next day.
Another year, after I was married and had children of my own, we’d planned to get together with one of my sisters, her family and her in-laws. All went according to plan until my mom ended up in the ICU and my dad (who by then worked for the town) was called out to plow another three feet of snow. Mom got better, and Dad was able to stop in the house for a quick meal with us—including some pie, of course. We had extra reasons to be grateful that year.
The years have passed, and my family has scattered to live over almost 1500 miles apart from the farthest north to the farthest south. We all get together on occasion, but that doesn’t happen too often. That’s why last year, my son and some of his cousins decided to take matters into their own hands. They put out the word that they wanted to have a family reunion this year in the town where my dad lives (and where I grew up).
They put a lot of time into the plans, coordinating who would stay where and who would do what. Early on, we decided to have the meal catered and hold it at the membership hall of the church my dad attends (which is just around the corner from his house). That would give us access to two kitchens. The invitations went out through word of mouth and social media, and everyone got really excited. We may be missing two members of the family because of work obligations, but the rest plan to be there. The gathering of the food (of course, we need extra pies and other goodies) and the division of who will be bringing what has gone smoothly.
And this is what I love most about Thanksgiving. Being with family and catching up on new and old news. Gasping about how big the kids have grown since the last time we saw them. Discussing and debating sports teams and their chances next year. Starting so many sentences with, “Oh you remember [Fill in the name]. She (or he) was in school two years before you and...”
Oh, did I mention that we’ll be five generations strong? We’re looking forward to being together and each of us is thankful to have the chance to share hugs and a meal...and of course, pie!


  1. Loved reading about your Thanksgiving traditions, Jo Ann. Thanksgiving brings home the traditions that have been passed down to us and it reminds me of all the Thanksgivings past with loved ones who are no longer with me. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  2. Jo Ann, it sounds wonderful! I bet there are TONS of stories to share! I hope you have a wonderful time. I'll also be with family and we'll also be watching football!

  3. Your reunion plans sound lovely. We host Thanksgiving at my house most years. Thankfully everyone helps with the cooking.

  4. Years ago, my sister-in-law planned our big family Thanksgivings, but now everyone is scattered across the country. Our own children and grandchildren currently live too far away to visit regularly, so for most holidays it's just the two of us. Grateful for the internet, WhatsApp calls, and instant messaging!

    1. It's amazing how many different ways we find to get together on Thanksgiving.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving JoAnn! Great post. Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time to connect with family and friends and be thankful for all our blessings.


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