For many years, nothing said Thanksgiving like Interstate 95 between Washington, DC and New Hampshire.
I lived in Philadelphia, and some years I made the short drive south to be with my family in Washington. Those times brought back memories of childhood Thanksgivings — my uncle who always sat with us at the kids’ table; our yellow Lab, Sunny, and my grandmother who believed dogs belonged outside, so, looking for something positive to say about our dog, hit upon, “He has a noble head”; touch football games in the yard with the uncles and cousins; and, as painful as it is to mention, watching the Redskins lose to the Cowboys year after year.
After my wife and I started a family of our own, we drove from Philadelphia to her grandfather’s place in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for the big dinner. We often got in on the first snowstorm of the year on those Thanksgiving weekends. One year, we decided to drive on Thanksgiving Day for a Saturday dinner in NH, thinking that we would enjoy a traffic-free I-95 while everyone else ate turkey; for that miscalculation, we spent most of the afternoon idling on the George Washington Bridge. When we moved to New Hampshire the trek was much shorter, as we truly went over the river and through the woods to Grandfather’s house.
After Grandpa Prouty died, that side of the family dispersed for the holidays, and we joined good friends for friends-far-from-family Thanksgiving dinners. The three families that formed the nucleus of this group had 7 teenage boys among them, so our group set some eating records.
Now we’re in Southern California, and our boys travel home to be with us for Thanksgiving. One son travels down the Interstate 5. My wife has added fresh blackberry pie to the menu as a new tradition; one son continues his great-grandfather’s tradition of baking homemade rolls; and another son makes chocolate chip bars – because there’s no rule that you can’t have chocolate on Thanksgiving and, well, pumpkin is a vegetable. Enough said. When all that cooking is done we will gather around the table again with family and friends.
It seems commonplace at Thanksgiving to say that I’m thankful for family and friends…but I really am, and I’m saying it anyway.