Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, my High Holy Day. Lisa’s family will come over and we’ll once again blend our traditions, each person carrying a ghost from their own childhood in the form of a platter of food. It may be the stuffing their grandma made or the pie their favorite aunt used to make. Some new traditions may start tomorrow, and some old ones may vanish forever. This is only the most recent incarnation of my favorite holiday.
I’m not someone who likes to spend a lot of time dwelling on the past. I am very good at compartmentalising my life, and that includes keeping the past in the past, where it belongs. But at this time of year, it seems like the veil separating the past from the present is so thin I may fall through. I feel like I could be driving home from work, sitting alone in my car, and suddenly find myself sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner at my Mema’s house thirty years ago. It may be seventy degrees out, but I can feel the chill of the last Thanksgiving before my mom passed away. It was 1993, and it snowed and iced on Thanksgiving. I almost skipped it because I was scared to drive on the ice. Only a handful of people were able to make it that year. I’m glad I was one of them.
I’ve shared the Thanksgiving feast with representatives of every generation of my family who lived in my life span, from my great grandparents, who were born in the 1890’s, to my son, who was born over a century later. Some day I’ll eat the feast with my grandchildren, and maybe someday with my great grandchildren. Those future feasts will be as different from tomorrow’s as tomorrow’s will be from the ones in my memory. But each will carry with it the joyful memories of all that came before.
Tomorrow, the memory of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents will share a table with us, as though they were still here. And hopefully, years after I have moved through the veil, the memory of me will live on to share Thanksgiving with the generations I will never meet.