Don’t skip Thanksgiving

Published 1:16 am Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Monday was my youngest brother’s birthday, but Jim wasn’t here to celebrate it with his family. It’s been just over a year since he died and it still doesn’t seem real sometimes.

With this week bringing both his birthday and Thanksgiving Day, I’ve thought about him a lot. Mostly I’m remembering our days as kids growing up together.

Not many years separated my two brothers and me. That meant we were close when we were children. We were like the three musketeers; or maybe it was the three stooges. Anyway, we were buddies.

We were each other’s playmates most days. Jim once told me he thought I was a really bossy big sister. I probably was, but I don’t remember it that way. As adults, we were able to laugh about my bossiness. I’m glad he forgave me.

Some of my sweetest memories of those days with my brothers show up this time of year, especially around Thanksgiving Day. It was a season when the world turned a thousand shades of yellow and orange and brown. We played in piles of crackly leaves and slid down leaf-covered hills on pieces of cardboard. Mostly, I remember laughing and feeling free.

We rushed in from school on cool November afternoons, stopping to compare the versions of turkey art we created in our classrooms that day. The holiday was coming and we were ready for a few school-free days.

Thanksgiving morning for us was all about lining up in front of the television to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We waited anxiously for the end when Santa came into view. Our skins could hardly hold the excitement of that moment.

Then it was off to visit grandparents and play with cousins we only saw occasionally. I remember the three of us sitting in the backseat, with Jim probably in the middle, as Daddy drove us home after a long day of turkey and dressing and trying to be on our best behavior at the dinner table.

It wasn’t unusual for us to be sound asleep leaning peacefully into each other by the time we were halfway home. On several occasions, Mother had us put on our pajamas before we started the trip. We’d snuggle under a blanket, comfortable and happy as the motion of the car rocked us to sleep.

It felt like seasons of watching Christmas parades and hearing Daddy read the 100th Psalms before the Thanksgiving meal would last forever.

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.“ I loved that verse because I felt like making a joyful noise.

Alas, time feels different when you are a kid, slower, kinder, but those days fly by at a breakneck speed. We grew up and other interests replaced rolling in leaves and comparing turkey art.

Still, I go back in my mind to the sweetness of that time. I close my eyes and see the three musketeers, me and Bob and Jim, lying on our backs looking up at a fall blue sky, dreaming about Thanksgiving Day and all the fun waiting for us.

I wished Jim a Happy Birthday in heaven on Monday. Tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day, I’ll hold my memories close and I will be thankful for them.

Sometimes in today’s busyness, it feels like we skip right over Thanksgiving and go from Happy Halloween straight to Merry Christmas. Thanksgiving Day isn’t even a speed bump between them anymore.

Time passes quickly enough without us rushing by important moments that come only once a year. Tomorrow I hope you find some space to enjoy your life in the moment. Really see the people you love. Feel the sweetness of being here, right now.

Create memories that go with you and will keep those you hold dear with you even when they are no longer here. Make a joyful noise. Roll in some leaves. Wave back at Santa sitting on top of that Macy’s float. Eat more turkey than you should.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.