How do you measure the success of a Thanksgiving dinner? Is it a perfect turkey with gourmet side dishes, Martha Stewart-type table linens and accessories? Or can it be a day-after-Thanksgiving picnic on the floor of your apartment at Presbyterian Village?
This year we had a nontraditional celebration. Jim and I came from Colorado; Molly and Trevor came with the kids from central Kansas, and David and Sharon came from their house nearby. While others shopped for Black Friday bargains, the ten of us shared a special picnic on the living room floor of your apartment. You napped off and on in your recliner, waking to take bites of carrot cake with thick icing, then licking your lips, smiling, and going back to sleep.
After Grace and Gannon sang the dinner prayer, food was served from every counter space and side table around the room, and our dog Maggie sniffed around, hopeful for crumbs and spills. Everyone talked at once, laughed together, sampled food off each other’s plates, and stepped over out-stretched legs to go back for seconds.
In the midst of the happy chaos, you were surrounded by your daughter and son and their spouses, your granddaughter and her husband, and your two great-grandchildren. All of us merrily crowded together, and none of us would have been there if it hadn’t been for you and Dad. Your legacy surrounded you, Mom.
Each year Grace and Gannon begin decorating the Christmas tree as soon as the Thanksgiving dinner ends. We can measure their ages in the pictures by how high up the ornaments and tinsel hang on the tree branches. Their creativity is measured by their reach.
All around your apartment are framed pictures of family, from the time David and I were babies, then toddlers, then throughout the years as we grew up. During the early years, when you and Dad were working hard to build the family business, two measures of your resourcefulness are the outfits you made for us and the way you cut our hair. Money was tight but you were creative, and the pictures measured your efforts.
On this year’s day-after-Thanksgiving celebration, as I sat on the living room floor and watched my brother munch cookies, I had to smile at one picture in particular on the bookshelf above him. David is maybe five in the picture and his hair is curly and trimmed neatly. I’m three and sitting next to him. We wear little matching jackets you made, and my hair, straight and fine, is cut in what you called the “Dutch-boy” style, as if you put a bowl on my head and trimmed around the edges.
What is the measure of a great Thanksgiving dinner, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, a successful life…or a good mother?
It doesn’t matter how “experts” measure dinners, trees or anything else, Mom. Your life speaks for itself, and all of us sitting cross-legged on the floor around you have experienced first hand the wonderful mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great-grandmother you are.
We’re thankful for you, Mom, and we all love you.