As a child, I never went over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house. My paternal grandmother passed away before I was born. My Mother’s Mother passed away when I was three. So, we had Thanksgiving at home. In later years, the extended family got together.
What I remember, and I assume this happened annually is that my uncle and cousins came in from out of town to go hunting. They stayed at our house, and were up and gone before I crawled out of bed. By the time I had finished watching the Macy’s Day Parade on NBC, they were home and Thanksgiving dinner was being prepared.
As for the parade, I’m still partial to watching it on NBC. I know there are other parades. But this is THE parade.
I love a parade.
No, seriously. I do. It would be a dream job to be the organizer of something like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Tournament of Roses Parade. But that ship has sailed, and I have no regrets.
It was routine to get up and turn on the Macy’s Parade. It didn’t matter that, at least until I was in middle school, the parade was in black and white.
It was New York. It was Macy’s.
Going to see the Macy’s parade live is on my bucket list. I actually had the chance to see it when I worked in New York City over Christmas break my sophomore year in college. But, I opted to go to New Jersey to spend the day with the family of a good friend. I would have loved seeing the parade. But I made the better choice.
As a child I had never seen Miracle on 34th Street, I was always a little baffled about the appearance of Santa at the end of the parade. After all, Christmas was still weeks away.
Painfully long weeks.
In the days where we still had a live tree, we didn’t put it up too soon for fear that it would dry out. I seem to have a memory of one year going through several, or at least two, trees because of that very reason.
But in my childhood there were no stores pushing the Christmas decorations in August or even September.
After the Parade and the meal the rest of the television watching turned to football.
Those were also the days when you actually got to watch live marching bands perform at halftime. Filling halftime with sports commentary or otherwise “entertainment” is one of the worst decisions in television sports history.
Today, Thanksgiving involves driving to Southwest Virginia to my parents’ house. We’ll cross a river or two, so my boys could sing. Should they choose to look up from their electronics long enough to do so.
My boys also think Thanksgiving with my family is a little weird. They’re right, of course. They will never know the joy of the family gatherings I experienced as a child. Both of my parents were the youngest of large families. I was the next-to-youngest cousin on both sides. Family gatherings were big. And loud. And we ate a lot.
I’ll still eat too much and will experience a good round of the food stupids that traditionally follow the Thanksgiving meal.
And we’ll watch the parade. On NBC. I’m looking forward to seeing the cast of the newly opened Broadway Show Side Show. A friend from college, with whom I have acted, is in the cast.
While I’m remembering the Thanksgivings of my childhood, I know that years from now my boys will do the same.
And, while they’d never admit it, there will come a day when they’ll look at each other and say “You know, weird wasn’t so bad after all.”