box full of memories

Thanksgiving day. It is one of my favorite days of the year. I love the crisp air. I love the color and crunch of the leaves. I love being with my family at our farm.

Members of my family have gathered for Thanksgiving at our family’s century-old homestead for six generations. The song lyrics, “Over the river and through the woods,” have resonated with me since childhood; even as the river has morphed into a lake, and the woods have been overtaken by the never-ending march of humanity.

Thanksgiving day always elicits so many memories- the earliest revolving around pulley bones and wishes, the annual haggling over the turkey legs, and the eagerly anticipated promotion to the adults’ table. Other recollections, formed during my adult years, encompass early morning searches for decorative leaves and berried vines, impromptu sporting matches on the front lawn, and long walks down the lane with youngsters and pets in tow. And of course, there is the most unforgettable memory of all- the image of our deflated turkey emerging from the oven, nothing but a gooey mass of grey matter. Although I had never been a fan of retail establishments being open on the holidays, that Thanksgiving I was truly thankful for the lone, local grocer who opened his doors for a few brief hours. All and all, the smoked chicken was quite tasty, and from my culinary perspective, a nice change of pace.

It was perhaps these memories, in combination with a publication’s submission proposal, that led me to the creation of some simple favor boxes this year. After considering some other creative options, I concluded that these small tokens would be perfect for sharing additional family keepsakes, favorite holiday memories or recipes, or even a delicious sweet treat. Moreover, I could imagine them eliciting bouts of reminiscing, a simple tool for enlightening younger generations about our long lineage and those loved ones no longer present. Crafted from petite, paper soap sleeves I collect from hotels or form from a template, they can be decorated in any number of ways. In this instance, I decided to utilize family photographs and heirloom findings for decoration, as well as scrapbook paper, ribbon, hemp cord, and even recycled linen strips garnered from a pair of well-worn trousers. The image you see is one I dearly love, even if it is almost faded beyond recognition. It features my father, as an infant, positioned in front of a great, old oak tree on our farm. My father has been gone for nearly eighteen years, but the oak still stands, broken and disfigured from a debilitating lightning strike.

As time has passed, our Thanksgiving table has become smaller and smaller due to aging, illness, relocation, and the inevitable deaths. Additional absences have been due to reasons as benign as extracurricular school activities that do not permit traveling. I wonder if earlier generations were faced with similar or other obstacles for communing on this day set aside for thanksgiving and gratitude? I hope not. I would like to think that those who struggled so diligently to provide many of the gifts I am most thankful for, particularly the farm, had this beautiful fall day to rest and rejoice in the fruits of their labor. I hope, too, that those who follow me will find a moment in this frenetically paced society to forge new memories in this aged place. Surely this business of life can allow us one day . . . to be thankful . . . together.

Many blessings to you and yours on this day of thanksgiving. -l

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