Thanksgiving is here, and with it, memories of holidays past.
When I was young, it meant a meal at my grandparents’ house on Sullivan Road in Central. This would be small, my grandparents, great-grandmother and the four members of my immediate family.
By high school, it was a meal at my family’s house on the Bank Street Extension in Clinton. This would be large. It might include those grandparents from Central. It would always include many of my mother’s 10 siblings and their families.
Just after college, I ran The Watchman in Clinton, and my family discovered Bear Corners Restaurant in Jackson. We would have the holiday buffet because my father and I would have to work at least part of the holiday at our respective newspapers and this was convenient.
Bear Corners stayed with us after I moved to Alexandria. My parents would drive from New Orleans and I would drive from Alexandria to meet there. We’d then head back to our cities, to work the night shift.
In 1993, my then boyfriend, now husband Gary, rode to north Louisiana, about 9 miles from the Arkansas border, to mark Thanksgiving in the church parsonage my parents were living in, as my father had changed careers. It was the first time Gary met my father.
When we left, we were driving straight to our jobs at The Sun Herald, in Biloxi, Mississippi. Making that drive allowed us a few more precious hours with my family. However, a flat tire south of Bunkie delayed us. And it introduced Gary to a Baton Rouge institution: Even though the store had changed names by that point, the man helping us at the car care center answered the phone, “Godchaux!”
My family continued to move. My brother, Thomas, and his wife even made it to the United Kingdom, where they have been for about 13 years.
My mom, Etta, died about 12 years ago. And this year, we lost my dad, Roy.
It will be my first year without any of my immediate family nearby.
It will be the smallest Thanksgiving yet, just my husband and me. Just another ebb in the flow that is our lives.
But it is still a time of thankfulness, for the family that has been there through the years, for the wonderful food we have in Louisiana, wonderful journeys we took this year and many other things.
Many of you are still recovering from flooding. Many of you have experienced loss of relatives in this year or other troubles.
Take today as a chance to breathe and recall things to be thankful for. They are easy to overlook when you focus on the sadness.
And remember the joy of Thanksgiving past, no matter the size or place.