The first is from my freshman year of college when I came home for Thanksgiving. My grandfather Henry Otto George Blume somehow had discovered that while at college I had tasted roast duck and liked it. Thanksgiving at my house consisted of my mom serving the same eight men and boys she served every single day. The Thanksgiving meal however, was her opportunity to be extraordinary, and she did not disappoint!
So early on this Thanksgiving morning my mom is doing her thing alone in the kitchen when my grandpa walks in with two ducks. I come in the kitchen to say hi, and my mom looks at him like he is from outer space and asks, ”What in the world you doing with those ducks, Dad? I’ve got the biggest turkey I could buy in the oven.” Without missing a beat my grandfather, who was forever hiding a smile, answered in his gruff, low German-accented growl….”I heard Danny likes ducks; these ducks are for Danny and me!” It was the clearest expression of love I ever heard from him.
The other is the story of the first time my yet-to-be wife, Katie, met my side of the family. It was over Thanksgiving 1979. Katie sat with those eight men and boys and my mother. Again my mother had outdone herself. All eyes, especially my mom’s, were on Katie for her first bite of the feast, the homemade stuffing. After Katie took that first bite she hesitated and then…well, then she pulled out a twisty tie that somehow had found its way into the oven and onto her first forkful of stuffing. The look of disbelief on my mom’s face, the unrelenting teasing of my four brothers, the blue eyes of my grandpa Otto sparkling in delight. I’ll never forget it! It was the moment when Katie became a part of her very different Blume/Bryan family.
Thanksgiving for many of us will be a time when the ordinary scene of eating a meal together has the capacity for something truly extraordinary to happen. And although what we may remember may not exactly be what we could record digitally, what sticks with us about the moment is often worth telling over and over.
We go to so much trouble to be together, to cook and prepare and honor worn-out family traditions together on Thanksgiving because we know that sometimes an extraordinary moment will come out of it, a moment that will outlive the generations who experience it. If a moment like that happens, tell somebody, especially a child about it this Thanksgiving. Tell them because well, I don’t know about you, but for me, when I tell these stories for just a moment folks like my grandfather and my mother are not only remembered, they are also sharing the great feast with us.
Keep the Faith,