|My mother and me raking leaves ca. 1971.|
The answer that I came away with surprised even me. Although there were many tempting guests, my ancestor dinner would only include people who I knew in life. I would have one last holiday dinner with both of my parents and all of my grandparents; out of, this group only my mother and I are still alive.
Thanksgiving 2010 was the first time that I had the opportunity to host Thanksgiving dinner. My father, who was almost always the holiday cook, had passed away in 2005. After that, we had Thanksgiving at the Long Island Ronald McDonald House where Donalds' mother, the House Manager, spent all day in the kitchens making dinner for dozens of guests. In 2010 she had retired and was recovering from minor surgery, giving me the opportunity to host.
That morning I was out of bed before sunrise and out walking our dog, DJ, while there was still a hint of darkness to the West and a little bit of fog. The village was eerily quiet as we set out with no one in sight. A few blocks into our walk, we found ourselves at the corner of the street where I grew up, our little house about six houses down. In the quiet and fog and nostalgia of that morning I had this overwhelming feeling that if I just turned the corner instead of crossing the street as planned, that I would find that the clock had turned back over thirty years; my grandfather Matthews' Buick would be in the driveway, my father would be in the kitchen and one of my Grandmother Matthews' infamous cheesecakes would be tempting us from inside the fridge.
What an amazing day it would be; the house filled with the aroma of the turkey roasting in the oven, maybe a fire going in the fireplace, definitely the sounds of laughter if my grandfather Smith was regaling us with a story or two.
I would ask all the questions I would never have thought or known to ask the last time we were all together for Christmas in 1978. I would gather all of those mystery photos and take copious notes about the subjects and the events. I would tell my grandfather that I had found his parents' wedding date and the last name of his father's first wife.
Mostly though, I would revel in the unconditional love of my parents and grandparents and the familiarity of our little house on Windsor Avenue. And before the spell was broken and DJ and I returned home, I would make sure that they all knew how that love was returned.