Changes: Thanksgiving Reflections

The Wednesdays before Thanksgiving: Cat, Robert, and Matilda and I would get off the bus around 12 to find mom's multi-page chore list. We would fight over who does what while I blast Cher on my little stereo and chase Robert around the house with knives (like the loving sister I was). Once mom was home from work it was go-time and like a mad wave our family would hustle through the grocery store, surely to forget something. Poor mom, hauling 4 kids. Now I get why she would make 1-2 of us wait in the van (with the windows cracked, don't worry). Room was made in the fridge and snow packed on the porch for when we would run out of fridge space and resorted to Wisconsin November air to chill food. Somehow in the middle of it all we trekked to Madison for a pre-Thanksgiving swim practice where I'd fall asleep on the way home, thankful to get tomorrow off, only to be back at it on Friday.
Mom rose before dawn to begin the turkey, every year muttering under her breath about how Americans are too traditional and we should enjoy a lamb roast or something (one year she finally did that!!). Her rolls, stuffing, chocolate pecan pies (to name a few) shortly followed. Dad would take us to get tables and chairs from the airport in the crunch before family arrived. Charlie ran around the yard, annoying the heck out of hunters in neon orange hoping to catch their Thanksgiving turkey or a doe for venison chili come December.
A million-and-one blonde haired and blue eyed Weedens (with a couple of dark-headed exceptions) and Malkows filled the tiny house, parking in the grass and plopping a cooler of BYOBs on the deck. The guys stood outside, doing who knows what, drinking their local brews. The ladies - inside, finishing up the food. Packers on TV. The cousins playing hide and seek or "Monster-tag" in the basement. 
We would eat and eat and eat. Grandpa Dick would find his way to the basement to watch Cars with us and without fail would fall asleep while we giggled around him.
And then they'd leave, going to in-laws, wherever they would go. Our little clan would sit around watching TV and sneaking rolls from the kitchen while mom yelled at us that there were more leftovers than that. She would begin prepping "turkey noodle soup" that was like mana and would last until Christmas leftovers rolled in. 
And when I look on all of this, I remember how we are actually not that close. The cousins and I barely talked, who knows about the aunts. Yet it was, and still remains, my favorite time to be a Weeden. We probably talk more now via Facebook than as kids! I have been home once in the last 7 years for Thanksgiving, fortunate enough to share in other family traditions during those absent years. This year I will join another family's celebrations. But as I reflect on what "used to be" on this Wednesday....I can't help but wish to be home, older now, and of more help. This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for my mom and her patience. I know she loved cooking all that food and having a reason to force us to clean. She did it for my dad's family and it never occurred to me what kind of service that is. While the sibs and I are all across the world, I look forward to the next time we are all home together (because we're not at the bottom of the employment totem pole and can afford to take off work), this time old enough to sit on the porch with our own brews, stories to tell, new friends to invite, new traditions to make.

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