Growing up I was a fan of Thanksgiving because I was given a few days off from school and it meant we'd be able to decorate the house for Christmas shortly thereafter. I rarely understood the importance of the day, or the magnitude of having a day set aside to give thanks for all of my blessings, nor the awesomeness of having extended family share the day with us. My mother labored, alone, in the kitchen to produce a picture-perfect, scrumptious Rockwellian feast, set the lovely table with my paternal grandmother's Thanksgiving plates for more than our normal five places, and outdid herself year in and year out with her presentation and execution of this arguably most important meal of the entire year. I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, dressed in some beautiful outfit she lovingly picked out for me, and, like most children, ate little of the dishes she prepared because my tastes had yet to develop to maturity. All the while I unknowingly was stockpiling warm memories of these dinners and storing them for a time, like now, when I would need to recall them to somehow reproduce a tiny part of what she did for my own family.
I am so blessed my parents are living and we are so very close, in our hearts. They live in Florida and I in New Jersey. During the summer I see them daily as they own a small summer cottage on a lake near my home, but once the autumn leaves become emblazoned with color, they retreat to their home down south. Whereas they return for Christmas most years, Thanksgiving, we have agreed, is a holiday they are more comfortable spending at home in Florida. This leaves me the hosting duties for this all-important feast day. And with these duties, and my maturity, I see how Thanksgiving is really the best holiday on the calendar!
Once my parents relocated to Florida they gave away many of their possessions to their children. Among the things I received were my grandmother's Thanksgiving plates that had graced my mother's table my entire childhood. The dishes have a glorious look; a brown and white color scheme with a lovely house in the snow and a majestic turkey in the foreground. There are approximately twenty plates and a huge serving plate. When I became "the keeper of the plates" I felt like I had become a valid and capable host of Thanksgiving. My husband and I, after assembling this all-important dinner for many years now, are always so proud to set our table with the Thanksgiving dishes and present our feast for family and friends. On occasion we've even brought our dishes to extended family on my husband's side to dine off of for the day. Thanksgiving dinner just looks (and tastes) better on those plates.
On Thursday I will lovingly take the Thanksgiving plates out of storage and set my table. I'll call my parents to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving and walk down memory lane for a few minutes before we ring off the phone. I'll assist my husband in making a glorious feast for our family of five and his parents who arrived last night to share our holiday. That afternoon, when we sit down to dine, we'll go around the table and tell what we are thankful. This year, like I have since I've had custody of them, I will silently be thankful for being "the keeper of the plates". And I'll say an extra prayer thanking God for giving me three children, one of whom will one day inherit the title of "the keeper of the plates".