Just before my mother would sit down at the Thanksgiving table she’d take one last look over the feast and say, “I guess that’s everything” and then when she did sit down she would turn and say, “Dad.” My father would clear his throat and begin saying grace, “Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts…” and within less than ten seconds the bowls of mashed potatoes and green beans and sweet potatoes and that lime Jello salad with the shredded cabbage would begin their journeys up and down and back and forth across the table. Like clockwork year after year it was always the same until the year Mom told us that Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Dan would be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner since Bobby and Judy had moved to Texas. My mother just couldn’t bear the thought of two people eating Thanksgiving dinner all alone. I always liked Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Dan.
“Sure smells wonderful in the kitchen” and “How big a bird did you get this year?” and “They say that you’re not supposed to stuff a turkey” and “I’m so hungry I could eat the whole thing” finally came to an end when Mom told me to tell everyone to sit down at the table.
When she came in and said, “I guess that’s everything” she did something that will be long remembered. My dad was ready but instead of saying, “Dad” she turned to my Uncle Dan and said, “Dan, would you like to say grace?”
With that Uncle Dan smiled and waited for all the commotion at the table to stop before he started. No, “Bless us, O Lord…” for Uncle Dan. He started with thanks for the wonderful meal and for everyone who was at the table and then for those who were far away and then for those who had died including the dear souls who had gone to their reward fifty years before. A little story about Uncle Myron who died in 1934 was delightful until you realized that there was no longer steam coming off the mashed potatoes.
The thanks continued on and on including thanks for the farmers who grew the potatoes and the turkey farmers and the men who work at the power plant so we can have light and thanks for Texaco which made the gasoline so everyone could get to this wonderful dinner. I could feel the tension growing at the table as a thin skin started to form on the gravy as it cooled. I think that what caused my mother to step in with an “Amen” was Uncle Dan’s thank you for the people in the Macy’s parade on TV who entertained us including those who held onto Snoopy on what seemed to be a very windy day in New York.
Nobody ever said a word about the delay to that Thanksgiving dinner. The next year when Mom said that Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Dan were coming again she just gave us a smile.
“I think that’s everything” Mom said before she sat down next to Uncle Dan who had just folded up two or three pages of what appeared to be notes but before she was done sitting she turned and said, “Dad.” Within five seconds my father had completed grace leaving Uncle Dan sitting there stunned until somebody asked him to pass the cranberry sauce.
I believe they flew to Texas the next year.