Thanksgiving legacy

I once read of a young woman preparing her kitchen for Passover. Amid the traditional cleaning and purging, she had a sense of taking her place in the long line of women who had done so before her, throughout history. As if the rituals of tradition invoked their presence, for within the actions lie inextricable, unbroken threads of purpose, holiness, praise, gratitude…

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I have a similar sensation. Driving to the grocery store, armed with a list of ingredients for foods that my children have requested (deviled eggs and carrot cake chief among them), I am enchanted by autumn’s alchemy. Late afternoon sun gilds the trees along the roadside. The blending of red, orange, bronze, some trees already bare, preparing for winter…for a moment, for mere seconds, I imagine there are figures running through these flickering sunlit woods. If I could look long enough, or just right, I might catch glimpses of people as they were in times past, maybe even my childhood self. Burnished memories still living, beckoning…snapshot scenes of Thanksgivings, with card tables set up for the children. Heads bowed in prayer. My grandfather’s humble blessing, his knobbled, work-worn hands. Grandma’s deviled eggs and potato salad, Mama’s carrot cake (the hit of every holiday gathering), Grannie’s rum pound cake…lifting that big old Tupperware lid, the first whiff nearly knocking me down, but the moist golden richness after…incomparable. I find myself yearning for a slice of it now.

In the process of cleaning and preparing for the holidays I reorganized a closet. I found a box of Grandma’s things. Letters and cards given to her over the years, her green-bronze jewelry box containing her clip-on “earbobs”. Old photos. Books and trinkets I’d given her. Her diaries, dating back to when I was twelve. Programs from my school plays. Her funeral program. And I think about how life is the story of love, sacrifice, survival. How she and Grannie did much with little, raising children during the Great Depression. How they held faith and family above all else…how they do not feel far from me, even now, as I write these words. My own granddaughter, their great-great granddaughter, will be four weeks old on Thanksgiving Day. I have a profound sense of taking my place in a hallowed line of legacy and love. With abiding gratitude. And joy, shining like the immutable sun on the autumn trees, in the ongoing story of survival. The turning of pages, new chapters, in a gilt-bound book…

Here’s to all the blessings that were, are, and are still to come.

Our precious Micah

14 thoughts on “Thanksgiving legacy

  1. Fran, this legacy with all its memories and the memories you share feels so nostalgic. It’s a beautiful thing to think of the apron strings and how they all tie together in a long line of family matriarchs. The picture is your granddaughter holding a future spot is priceless. I think I want your recipe for the run pound cake. Oh my! That sounds divine and already I speculate that somewhere the good Lord understands that by time for dessert, a good many of us may be needing something soaked in rum. This is absolutely beautiful. No one slices the moment and the feeling quite like you do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kim, the apron string metaphor you use here is so good. Those are ties that bind! Love thinking of my Micah having her spot reserved in this line of matriarchal legacy. And as for my Grannie’s rum cake… alas, I don’t have it! I only have my mother’s carrot cake recipe but now I feel compelled to hunt down a rum pound cake recipe that comes close. Despite the first whiff rum knocking you flat, it was heavenly. No question in my mind that the Good Lord understands. 🙂


  2. The part sticking with me from your lovely slide is this line: for mere seconds, I imagine there are figures running through these flickering sunlit woods. Maybe it is because my kids are grown and my oldest is hosting this meal this year. I am also imagining the past and wondering about the future. Thanks for placing into words much of what I am also feeling, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sally, I’m delighted to know the post resonates with you so, especially those images of people in the past being nearby, possibly visible, in those sunlit woods. We miss them, yearn to talk to them, yet they somehow aren’t far…enjoy your holiday with your children and all the new memories in the making!


  3. Your words of description, love, gratitude, legacy bring tears for me. Your Micah’s picture and frame sings in my heart. I have joy in the remembering and sadness in what is missing in my extended family now. Some hold onto their old griefs, forget the lessons and the legacy. I feel called to recall and share these moments. To honor the love, remember the examples, offer the prayers. And hope. And be grateful for words like yours that warm me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Janet – such truth in your words about loss and its intermingling with joy as the holidays roll around again. Life is hard, with shards of pain – but there are so many, many gifts surrounding us, all the time, just like the love that lives on and never dies. I am grateful for that and for you!


    • I do believe such memories impart courage and strength. I am not sure my grandmothers would consider themselves “strong” but I know they were, beyond measure – just as I know love lives on. Many thanks, Lakshmi.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This beautifully written post speaks to your sensitive nature and love of family. It brought tears to my eyes. I no longer host Thanksgiving…my five children have taken over. It’s beautiful to witness them not only follow traditions, but create their own. I hope someday my grandkids have the kind of memories you speak of in this post. Have a wonderful day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Rita – life is so full of treasures. Traditions are often more than just connective threads; sometimes they are the very ribbon tied ’round life itself. Thank you for your lovely thoughts and a happy holiday to you and your family!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, happy Thanksgiving. Can I call this a prose poem, Fran? It is so beautifully written, and I love the idea of you taking your place in this long line of women. Your joy of living comes through in all you write. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think this could be a prose poem, Denise! I also see line breaks I could insert to make it look and feel more poetic – thank you for your poetic eyes and ear, always filtering through faith and tuned to life’s rhythms. I am grateful for your words.


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