I have always been thankful for Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays and has been from the get-go.
Back when I was a kid, I was thankful because it meant a couple of days off from school. That was back before all of the in-service stuff and parent-teacher conferences. Let me assure you – the last thing we wanted was to have our parents and teachers get together.
Some things were different back then, while others remain just about the same.
Although there were no football games to watch on television, there was always the big family dinner —where everyone came to do some serious eating.
My family went along with tradition and had a big turkey for the main dish. I wasn’t much of a turkey lover, so Mom usually would prepare a chicken or some ham to satisfy my taste buds.
The whole family gathered at my Grandpa and Grandma Rood’s house for the big dinner. I remember as we walked in, the smell of food was overwhelming.
The men sat around in the living room swapping tales about the good old days. The lights in the room were softened by layers of cigarette and cigar smoke.
Out in the dining room and kitchen, the atmosphere wasn’t nearly so relaxed. The women were rushing about trying to “tie up all the loose ends,” as Grandma put it.
As the youngest member of the family, I had the luxury of being allowed into both camps.
I usually found the conversation in the living room left a lot to be desired. Who cared how many acres of corn some farmer still had left to pick or why somebody’s creamery truck had been seen parked out behind the tavern? So I usually would exit to the dining room and kitchen, and get in the women’s way.
That was until my grandpa, also tired of the living room conversation, headed for his den. There, behind the closed door, was the ideal spot for bonding.
Grandpa spent most of his time studying books on history and far-away parts of the world. Let me tell you, all that reading made him a great storyteller.
He was especially interested in the Native American Indian and this prompted the nickname he used for me: Lone Wolf. It came from the fact that I was the only “kid” at most of our family dinners.
Grandpa’s stories of Indians never included them fighting cowboys or soldiers. He would tell of the Indians’ everyday lives. How they existed on what nature and the environment had to offer.
He would explain their weapons, but never how they used them in battle — only to provide food for their families.
Naturally, the stories would end up with the Indians helping the Pilgrims and how that prompted the first Thanksgiving.
Grandpa seemed to time the ending so it would coincide with the call to dinner.
That was early 1950s-style Thanksgiving. It sure beat watching football on television.
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.