Thanksgiving Memories

Although I have many wonderful Thanksgiving memories over the years, I have one that stands out.

It was a sunny day in the mountains. We made the decision to stay home-alone for Thanksgiving for the first time since our move to the mountains. Usually, our holiday had consisted of a three-hour drive to the Bay Area and the three-hour trek back on the same day. Sometimes, we went to a relative’s house, other times we’d end up in a restaurant with family. There was always traffic increasing our traveling time or when we’d run into the dreaded fog. But, we felt it was worth it to spend time with loved ones. Then, there’d be occasions when people would come to our house, too. We’d spend our time entertaining and visiting them, then I’d collapse on the couch at the end of the day in exhaustion. This year, for many different reasons, we stayed home and had no guests. It was a first for our family of five.

I arose that beautiful November morning and got the 20-pound turkey in the oven. I turned on the Macy’s Day Parade and drank a cup of tea, while the rest of the family woke up. Then we ate a breakfast of pumpkin pancakes, bacon, eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice and cheered-on our favorite floats and balloons. We fantasized how it would be to have a hotel room along the parade-route watching this in person and to see New York during the Christmas season. Then came the excitement of Santa Clause’s appearance, signaling the end of the parade.

While our stuffed turkey continued to cook, it was time to get dressed. My family was done way before me. So, my husband took the kids outside to ride their bikes. My two pre-teen girls were on their mountain bikes, while my pre-school son was on his Big-Wheel. I slipped into my dress that would match my daughters and applied my make-up. Searching through my drawer I found the one pair of nylons that wasn’t snagged. Wearing my best jewelry and my slippers I was ready.  I stepped out of the kitchen, filled with the smell of turkey, into a beautiful fall day. I was greeted by my children all lined up behind my husband, who was in his white dress shirt, black slacks and suspenders. They went by oldest to youngest, with my son at the end wearing his favorite train conductor hat riding through the forest.

I quickly grabbed my camera and recorded this pure moment. Smiles lit everyone’s face, including mine, while laughter was layered into the air. All was right in our world. I grabbed my bike and joined the fun.

It was a day when there were no schedules to honor, no traveling, or guests to entertain–it was just us enjoying us. That day still brings me joy many years later. I don’t remember if the turkey was moist or the pies were perfectly seasoned with a tender crust. What I do remember is we ate together and then played a family favorite “The Disneyland Game”. Who won? Didn’t matter then nor now. It was a time of innocence and love. A time of laughter and joy that is etched forever in my mind as the perfect Thanksgiving Day that still exists in that magical place where memories dwell.

This year we are spending Thanksgiving with our oldest grand kids, and son who is making the trek from college. Our Thanksgiving tree is up, so whoever enters our house can write something they are grateful for on the “tree leaves”.  Later, we’ll be visited by one of my daughters and her husband who’ll be eating their second meal. The rest of the family has their own places to be, but they will be in our hearts forever and in our memories. My hope for the day is, that maybe, just maybe, we can create some more magic to remember in the years to come, that will compare to that day in the sun so many holidays ago.

*I could only find one picture from that happy day. It is of my husband riding his bike, but the kids weren’t in the picture. The other picture is our current Thanksgiving tree. The leaves underneath are from years past.

The monthly newsletter goes out tomorrow.

I won’t have a post on 25th because of the holiday, but will be back on the 2nd.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating it! Embrace your inner child, D.L. Finn

25 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Memories”

  1. Hi Denise! Your beautiful heartwarming story reminds me of my childhood Thanksgiving days. I also have a small Thanksgiving tree and we do a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the end of the night. Thanks for taking me back with your beautiful story. 😊💕

    1. Hi Vashti! I like the idea of a Christmas tree lighting at the end of the night. It’s nice to go back and remember all those good times and traditions we carry with us. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. This is such a moving post, Denise. We don’t celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’ here in Australia, but are very familiar with your special day and the reasons behind it. How lovely to have those images etched into your memory forever. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.🌹

    1. Thank you Soooz. It’s nice to have memories no matter what holiday it is. I like having a day to gather and eat while being thankful. It balances out the rest I think:)

      1. I am really looking forward to Christmas, too. I’m looking at my tree already with the lights on. It’s ready for the grand kids to decorate in a few days:)

      2. It’s such a lovely time. Now if we can only stop the cats from trying to steal the Angel from the top of the tree.😊

  3. A Thanksgiving tree is a wonderful idea and that day sounds like a magical time. It reminds me of a Christmas many years ago when a Christmas Day blizzard made travel impossible. Normally, my husband and I would spend the day with family, but it was just him and I that day. I remember the two of us going out in a winter wonderland, then making lasagna together with Christmas Carols playing. To this day, it remains a favorite Christmas memory.The day was pure magic.

    Happy Thanksgiving! I loved the photos!

    1. We’ve had fun with the Thanksgiving tree and adding what we are thankful for every year to it! Your day does sound magical lasagna and all! Yum. It seems like when we get those unexpected moments they turn into magic. You can never plan or prepare for that. Happy Thanksgiving Mae! Hope its magical for you.

  4. Wishing you the very best for this Thanksgiving, Denise. I know it’s a huge holiday for my friends living in the US. I’ve actually not heard of a Thanksgiving tree! Is this a regional custom or does everyone have one?

    Loved your story too. I think the best memories are always of the time spent with people. Generally, the things we fuss about to make the occasion perfect are secondary.


    1. Thank you Eden! I saw someone else doing the thankful tree a few years back and thought it was a great idea and added it in to our celebrations. I keep the old “leaves” and enjoy reading what we were thankful for in past years. I’m not sure where it came from or when it started, but I do enjoy it.

      Yes those best memories are always about the time over that fuss (and cleaning…) are forgotten over those beautiful moments.

  5. What a beautiful memory, Denise! I could fell the love and warmth emanating from your words. It’s those kinds of memories that help us through the hard time. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Hugs!

    1. Thank you Jan:) Yes, it is these moments do get us through the rest. No matter what happens we will always have them. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, too. Hugs back!

  6. I can picture you all riding your bikes together on that magical Thanksgiving… Such a beautiful sight! <3 And your Thanksgiving Tree–such a lovely way to make and share memories. xo

    1. It was one of those days I will never forget, thanks Bette. I started doing the tree a couple of years ago after seeing it done on a show I believe. I’m saving up all the leaves with past messages, I’ve really enjoyed it. xo

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