It was Thanksgiving and the kitchen in Nana’s small house in Laurel Park in Northampton was split down the middle with long, rectangle tables lined up to make one large seating area for over twenty people. Oversized antique serving dishes were filled with mounds of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and bright orange butternut squash, and there was a table setting for each person including the good silver and a wine glass for the family toast. The air was warm to contrast the cool November, and the low murmur of people talking quietly within their circles wafted around the room. Nana was wearing an apron over her clean white blouse and dark slacks, and on her face was a smile showing her pride for her very large, blended family.
After we ate dinner at Nana’s, we would make our way over to my paternal grandparents’ house in the next town over to have dinner there, also. Margie, my grandmother, would serve turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, corn, and her special dressing. Their house was crowded, too, and aunts, uncles, and cousins drank Budweiser Beer, and everyone checked in with each other and asked, “What’s new with you? How is school?” The meal was buffet-style, but the mood was the same holiday cheer. They were grand celebrations with no phones or other distractions, and we were all genuinely happy to see each other. Babies were passed around the room and at times, people would become emotional.
One day, it all stopped, but I can’t recall or detail that exact minute, and I wish I had not taken those moments for granted. People pass, relationships break up, people become estranged, and for other Ob‐La‐Di, Ob‐La‐Da reasons, things don’t stay the same. For so many decades, though, we celebrated the holidays the same way, with no changes, and I leaned on it, relied on it, and I miss it. It’s a reminder, I suppose, to live in the present, and appreciate the moments that will surely flee.