The holidays were always the most exiting time of the entire year. The days between September and Christmas Day were the longest frame of time each year. Christmas was of course what we anticipated the most but Thanksgiving was also a very big deal. Thanksgiving meant for us that our entire family was going to all come together. Before we could even get to the festivities we began our day with the Thanksgiving Parade.
I remember waking up early to watch the parade. My mom didn’t let us watch much tv during the daytime. On Thanksgiving, she would have the tv on bright and early. The rabbit ears had to be adjusted just right to ensure a clear picture. We watched the parade on the good tv. You know what that meant?…COLOR. The singing and dancing was cool but I only cared about one thing and one thing only! Seeing Santa Claus in his sleigh at the end of the parade. Santa was the official kick off to Christmas. My excitement would run over. After the parade and a few hundred pounds of food we lugged outside and loaded into the car, we were off to the Thanksgiving smorgasbord.
In those days, we went to Mama Chambers house for every holiday. Mama Chambers was my Godmother, she was my Uncle’s mother and my aunt Cubadeen’s mother in law and to be honest I think I was 13 when I realized that I wasn’t actually related to her. Mama Chambers lived in an apartment that wasn’t very big width wise but the apartment felt like it just kept going and going. I don’t know how we managed to fit so many people in her apartment. Her house was nice, neat, and filled with all the comforts that make home-home.
I try to close my eyes to remember the sounds and the smells of the time. I can smell my aunt Cubadeen’s Jean Nate’ that she would put on right out of the shower. I hear my mom’s infectious laugh and her calling for the long time family friend, “Otto” to give her an assist with the point she was trying to make. Mama Chambers’ voice was soft. She was couch bound and she laid on the couch directing traffic. She may not have been able to get around but she proudly knew everything that went on in her house.
Mama Chambers was probably the most unbiased person that I have ever met. My parents were divorced but Mama Chambers was a kind woman and when I say that my entire family came together for the holidays. I mean just that. My dad, his wife and one of my baby sisters all came over for Thanksgiving dinner. No on was turned away. That’s a great family right there.
We all got along back then for the most part. Us kids would play in Mama’s room. She had a huge bed and we would jump up and down on her bed. The coolest thing…at Mama Chambers house, the adults weren’t allowed to tell us to stop. How cool is that? The men watched the football games on the big tv. All the adults laughed and joked, some even telling their “remember when” stories. There was always so much love and laughter at her house.
My aunts and my mom would start cooking a couple of days in advance. There was always so much food. Hot homemade rolls, ham, chicken and dumplings, turkey so moist that it just fell off the bone, cakes, pies, and every side dish in between. My personal favorite has and always been dessert. Someone in the family would make a white cake with this jelly kind of filling in the middle. I absolutely loved this cake. I know that I probably was the one who ate majority of the cake but it was so good. We would have left overs for days after Thanksgiving. I would eat so much that I know personally how a baby feels when it needs to be burped. My aunt Cubadeen would give me a ginger ale to drink to make me burp. (Good times.)
I always look forward to Thanksgiving. Leaving home makes me realize how much I have taken for granted. As the elders in my family have gone on to glory it is up to the younger generation to try and keep the family together.
I can honestly tell you that there’s one place me and my family won’t be on Thanksgiving. We won’t be in line outside of a department store at dinner time, instead they will be sitting around the dinner table enjoying each other.