My sunny Florida kitchen looks out upon sunlight sparkling on the turquoise-blue water of our swimming pool. I watched a squirrel run up the palm tree that cornered the pool while I waited for boiled eggs to cool. A few minutes later, I went to peel the eggs, but they’d vanished.
“Where did my eggs go?” I yelled loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear.
My son, Rodney, grinned. “I don’t know.”
“I put them in the sink to cool.” I looked down the drain. “That thing ate my eggs.”
Rodney came up beside me and asked, “What thing?”
I pointed to the sink’s drain. “The new garbage disposal Scott insisted on.”
The family laughed like I was a comedian.
“When I first met her, she didn’t even know how to work a dishwasher," my husband said. "Now she doesn’t know how to use the new garbage disposal. Do I have to teach you everything?” His brown eyes twinkled. He patted my shoulder, and his grin lit up his face. Teaser that he was, it was easy for him to amuse the family and for them to enjoy the playfulness of his comments. “Reach your hand down there and get them.”
“I’m not putting my hand in that thing.”
The family’s laughter filled the kitchen. “I can’t make potato salad.
Those were my last three.”
“I’ll run to the store,” someone offered.
Rod said, “It’s a wonder you didn’t accuse me of eating them.”
“The garbage disposal did the job for you. I can’t believe I did that. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without potato salad.”
“Don’t you mean without turkey?” Rod rubbed his stomach.
I smiled. “No, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the thanks and the giving. Having you visit makes it blessed. We can thank God for a good laugh and a joyful day. We’ll remember this for many Thanksgivings to come.”
“Yeah, Mom, Scott will never let you live that one down.”
"I’ll remember how I lost my eggs every year.” I diced the pickles and green onions. “When you were small, I cooked huge family meals. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and decorating for the holidays. Another Thanksgiving is etched in the pages of my memories. Unexpected guests arrived with the family, and the ten-foot wide trailer couldn’t hold them. The cramped kitchen only held a small table.”
Rod took a pickle from the jar. “What happened?”
"I had plenty of food cooked, so I borrowed silverware and plates from your grandmother.”
“Who would show up uninvited?”
“Your grandmother and aunts asked friends from church.” I dumped pickles and green onions into a bowl and continued. “By the time the turkey was served, the trailer burst with people trying to find plates and utensils for eating. People packed into it like sardines in a tin can. Since God smiled on us with beautiful Louisiana weather, most of them took their plates and sat outside to eat. The air was crisp, cool, and refreshing after baking in the hot kitchen. I took my plate and joined them on the steps of the tiny porch.”
Rod’s blue eyes twinkled as he listened to me reminiscing. “I can just see you
balancing a plate of turkey and cornbread dressing on your lap.”
“It tasted every bit as good outside.” I playfully tapped his chest. “I had one more chair than Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in his book Walden that he had only three chairs.”
“Thoreau thought houses were “extravagantly large”. My trailer was extravagantly small for all the Thanksgiving dinner guests. We enjoyed the brisk air and sunshine and thanked God for our family and friends, delicious food, and a lovely day. You know son, that Thanksgiving and this one will always be etched in my heart, mind, and soul.”
“When the guests left, they thanked me for a great home-cooked meal, not an impressive dinner. One man with electric blue eyes said, “It didn’t matter if the dinnerware didn’t match. We didn’t come here for you to impress us.”
A lot has changed over the years. My four children are grown and have made me a grandmother multiple times. I’ve lost family members. My first husband, mother, father, and youngest sister all live in their heavenly home. Though some of the most loved people in my life are not here to share the holidays, I still have a traditional turkey each Thanksgiving, celebrate, and thank God for our food. Some things never change. I know my lost loved ones are feasting in heaven and waiting for me.
I thank God for the family who now shares my holidays. Last year, I did not bake turkey. Rod fried a turkey for us the Christmas before, and it was so juicy it melted in our mouths. So, Scott bought a turkey fryer and experimented. Ever since he cooked his first fried turkey, he said we wouldn’t have another baked one. so I’ve been relieved of one of my Thanksgiving duties.
We are a close-knit family group. Fancy plates and utensils don’t matter, nor does a fancy setting. What makes holidays special has nothing to do with materialistic things. The warmth and friendliness of our family and friends make up for whatever trivial items are lacking.
Times change, people change, places change, but the heart of the family and thanking God for His blessings and your family remain the same. I thank God for the Thanksgiving the garbage disposal ate the eggs and the year uninvited guests overfilled my tiny trailer. Those blessed Thanksgiving days will be eternally etched in the pages of my family’s hearts and minds.
Barbara Robinson makes her home in Florida with her husband, a cat, and two dogs. She is a graduate of Christian Writers Guild’s, a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and a graduate from the Long Ridge Writers Group. This story appeared in St. Cloud in the News last Thanksgiving. Many years ago a much simpler version appeared in The Ponchatoula Times, minus the Florida part of the story.