Growing up, Thanksgiving was not big in my mind. CAM Conference, however, was HUGE. Thanksgiving weekend was the time of the year when all the CAM missionaries in the Mexico field would gather – my sister told me for business (which was a surprise to me) – in my young mind we gathered for skit nights, swimming, singing, and playing with all our many friends. Now that I think of it, I don’t know what the adults did that weekend, but we kids had fun. I do remember overhearing one missionary mother exclaiming that she had achieved a mango pie that tasted “just like peaches”. Sad, I thought, why not just have it taste like mangos? It is hard to explain nostalgia and longing for turkey and pie to a kid who didn’t grow up with the traditional Thanksgiving trappings. Sure, turkey tastes good – with mole on it. I like pie. Do I dream of it? Not so much.
My family did have a few holidays in Michigan, with my dad’s family. I’m sure a few of those were Thanksgiving. What I remember of those is dismal, mind-numbing, horrible cold. A cold that would drive me to tears when made to bundle up and go sledding. Why would you want to wade out into the snow and torture yourself that way? I remember waiting to eat until the deer hunters returned, sometimes triumphant, sometimes muttering about the one that got away.
Now that I have grown up, married and fully embraced the traditional Midwestern Thanksgiving, I find there is a lot to give thanks for. There is family you don’t see often enough. There is the joy of watching your own children literally jump with joy greeting their cousins. There is food. Lots and lots of food. As Mike’s family has grown, so have the different foods we find on the table. Sure, there is turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, relish trays, jell-o salad. But there is also cranberry salsa, sometimes a prosciutto and mozzarella plate, and this year there was a fantastic roasted sweet potato – shallot – cherry – goat cheese salad *burp*.
This year there was happiness and sadness. We are all growing older. It is sweet to watch the little ones get bigger, start talking, walking, crawling. Some of them are sporting real facial hair, others have deeper voices, all are delightful. Babies that were shy just weeks ago are talking and sweet now. It is bittersweet to know that as the children age, so also do the adults. We wonder if this is our last Thanksgiving together, we give thanks for their lives and how they have affected ours.
To my family, scattered near and far, we miss you and hope you had a great Thanksgiving. To Mike’s family, it was another good year.