Thursday, November 22, 2012

Because I Said So: Thankful for times past, memories of family

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

Thankful for times past, memories of family
It's the most nostalgic time of the year. There are memories everywhere today, in each shaker of spice, in the clatter of silverware and carried in on the aromas from the oven. Who doesn't equate the myriad scents and sounds of Thanksgiving with childhood and the kitchen of a grandparent or great-grandparent?

Today is one of remembrance, a main course of sentimentality simmered over years past when, as children, we looked on from the kids' table to where the adults ate, wondering if the food there just out of reach wasn't sweeter and more plentiful, the talk more substantial and promising.

Time's crawl seemed interminable then, as though it would never get us to the grown-up table. And then one year it did; chairs were shuffled, and a place was made beside a favorite aunt or uncle. We began to look back almost immediately, spending this time each year remembering what it was like to be so carefree and, hopefully, thankful for that time past.

It's been a tough year for our family. My father died in the spring, and just last month we lost my grandfather. Such happenings make the gatherings we're having today, surrounded by family but with an obvious empty chair, a bit more melancholy.

We give thanks for those in our lives today as well as those no longer with us for whatever reason, for those we knew and who enriched our lives for having known them. Look to the kids' table, to that island of innocence, a refuge with its spilled milk, half-eaten turkey leg and discarded cranberry sauce where nothing unforeseen could touch you, where no concerns from the adult world, never more than a few feet away, would ever be seated.

Give thanks for your children who still believe that nothing will ever change, that sickness and sadness are ghouls to be stopped at the doorstep of the family home.

As my grandfather's illness progressed, it was his seven children who came together to look after him, and my grandmother to care for him and wrap him up in their memories.

My aunts and uncles, my mother, have had to act the adult more than ever in the past year. Yet they've also, I believe, spent some time at the kids' table, whole meals of nostalgia eaten with their mother at one end of the table, and their father at the other.

I gave the eulogy at the funeral and, in it, talked of how my grandfather could fill up a room with his very presence. In the absence of his physical presence this Thanksgiving, he is still here with us, the dining room filled with his family and his memory.
Richard J. Alley is the father of two boys and two girls. Read more from him at uurrff.blogspot.com. Become a fan of "Because I Said So" on Facebook: facebook.com/alleygreenberg.

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