Another Thanksgiving Day Came and Went

“Over the hills and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go.” That’s what we used to sing, growing up on a farm in northeast Georgia during the depression years. Major holidays meant getting together with a large family gathering at grandparents’ country home, particularly on Thanksgiving Day.

A large harvest table would be laden with farm-fresh country dishes, cakes, pies, casseroles, vegetables, turkey and ham. Back then, moms and grandmoms were stay-at-home and spent days before preparing the feast. The food was wonderful, but the gathering of family, and conversation and playtime was part of the joy of the holiday.

Yesterday my little family gathered for a festive and very enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. My wonderful daughter-in-law decorated the formal dining room table with beautiful Lenox china, crystal, silverware and place cards. The china plates set on golden chargers  completed a “House Beautiful” atmosphere. The serving table laden with all kinds of delicious goodies, turkey, pork, stuffing and side dishes.

After the feast, everyone retired to the living room, my son built a fire in the fireplace and everyone engaged in various games. Some played Wii, chess, bridge and Prince William and I played Doodley Squat.

Back there years ago living on a farm, country folk always had a lot of interesting sayings. One was “Doodley squat.” This meant one wound up with nothing resulting from a particular effort. For example, let’s say a farmer worked hard to prepare for a harvest, from his work in the fields. Planting cotton, he expected to harvest in the Fall, but the boll weevils invaded the cotton crop, destroying his harvest, so he wound up with nothing from his efforts, hence the term, Doodley Squat.

Four-year old Prince William loves to play competitive games, so I invented a card game, dealing each person 7 cards, and whoever gets 4 of a kind 4 times wins. The loser yells Doodley Squat!!! A silly little game a 4-year old loves to play, because he usually wins, and yells, “I’m the champion.”

I can’t help but observe, how similar our celebrations and family get-togethers are to those times years past, and yet how very different they are in many ways. What a joy to celebrate “traditions.” Having the beautifully set table, the wonderful food, conversation, the fireplace, playing games and eating desserts. I personally feel so blessed, having all my children and grandchildren alive.

Two of the girls, 10 and 12 years old, sat down at the baby grand piano and played beautiful music. Then the 10-year old played a couple of songs on her flute. They are so talented at ballet, singing, and Jackson Pollack-style painting.

We watched movies of their Santa visits every year at Phipps Plaza since they were babies. This year when Prince William sat on Santa’s lap and when asked what he wanted for Christmas, he said “A couch and ottoman.” Santa replied, “Well that’s a first!” I’m sure wondering how he would get those down the chimney!

I’m sure Santa had no way of knowing, he had recently acquired his own bedroom, with new furniture he loves spending time in, decorating with all the toys, particularly anything related to Sponge-Bob, or trains. He wanted a couch and ottoman for his bedroom. Very unusual, how this 4-year old loves decorating. He made decorations for my Christmas tree and decorated it. He’s very creative with his imagination. And a great joy for me to observe the workings of his young mind as he expresses his creativity at such a young age.

While decorating my Christmas tree, Will explained there were two kinds of Santa Claus, a real one and a fake one. The one at Phipps Plaza was real and the others we see in stores and at school are fake.

I have one of those electric dancing, singing Santas. While decorating the tree Will turns that on, then announces when he finishes, we must hang the stockings on the fireplace. And reminded me the night before Christmas, he would remember to leave cookies and a glass of milk for Santa.

And I remind myself, it doesn’t get any better than this!! That is, re-living the joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas through the eyes and energy and imagination of little children. The key is getting into the spirit of a 4-year old, or a 10- or 12-year old and following their lead of imagination and joy to experience the old and the new of the holidays.

Hope yours is as special as mine.

With a Ho-Ho-Ho and a ho-ho hum



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