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Commentary: Memories of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day always brings special memories to me. Two years ago, I spent my last Thanksgiving with my father who was fighting cancer at the time. He was in the Johnson City Medical Center trying to contend with the severe reactions he was having from an experimental cancer treatment. However, while he was very disappointed that he could not leave the hospital for Thanksgiving, he almost miraculously orchestrated a fully-catered Thanksgiving dinner for his family- five children, their spouses and nine grandchildren. The staff at the hospital let us use a doctors’ meeting room, and friends and family sent enough food to feed half of Johnson City. 
 
My stepmom helped my Dad with his famous Thanksgiving tie to lift his spirits and indulge his holiday tradition. The fact that my father was sick didn’t seem to slow him down that day. He smiled from ear to ear the entire time, looking at his grandchildren and telling old stories, a trait that endeared us all to him. I will always be thankful for that Thanksgiving Day spent in my hometown two years ago, as I learned so much about my father.
My fondest memories of Thanksgiving go back to the mid-70s as a child in Johnson City. 
 
Thanksgiving Day started with a light breakfast and watching the Macy’s parade with my family. Then it was off to Grandmother Derby’s house for the big lunch. She would be standing in the kitchen when we walked in her home, apron on with multiple skillets and pots cooking at the same time, all while making homemade rolls. 
 
She would always greet my sisters and me as if she had not seen us for a year. My Grandfather Derby would be in his recliner with the Detroit Lions game on ready for me to sit next to him and talk about sports, politics, school or whatever he could get me to chat about. 
 
I always had time to play a few games of football in the front yard before lunch started, and I remember my grandfather yelling at me, “Derby it’s time to eat.” After lunch, the front yard football games resumed, this time with neighborhood friends. The adults were relegated to being our sideline fans, as they were all too full to run. 
 
Then it was on to the final meal of the day at my Granna and Granddaddy Jones house. Upon arrival at the Jones’ house, the adults were ready to start the party. There was always music playing and the dinner, while delicious, was more of a snack for the adults because the kids would sneak around in my grandparent’s magical house uncovering all the games and toys saved over the years. I will always remember going through drawers and closets hoping to find something I had never seen before and usually finding it. The night ended with the family gathered around the TV watching a football game with the volume turned low so my Granddaddy Jones could ask the kids what we wanted from Santa.
 
That is what Thanksgiving is all about. Making memories with the ones you love the most. I hope that you and your family enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Posted on: 11/28/2013

 
 

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