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The onion tears mixed with the aroma of sage in mama's steamy November kitchen is a memory I'll take with me wherever I go. Grandmas, aunts, cousins, uncles crowding the house in a good way. Football games on in the living room, hunters on the patio talking guns, deer and quail in the cool, fresh air.

We often traded Thanksgiving among families. Oklahoma City one year, Cushing the next. Perry next time around. Later when we cousins married and had families of our own our old family ties grew more tenuous in light of our new family ties. New traditions, new faces, new in-laws, new experiences in different households. And we eventually developed traditions of our own. Until our kids had kids and were off on their mission to create new families and new traditions of their own.

No one had a table big enough for all of us at the same time. But we made do. The elders seated at the main table, two or three kids' tables spread around here and there, aunts, uncles interspersed among the rest of us. Uncle Linden was always our designated turkey carver. Cousin Don always brought his own creation; a smoked turkey he'd prepared himself.

Aunt Bonnie and Aunt Lois always brought plenty of home made pies and rolls. Salads and other desserts seemed to come from nowhere to fill up every available flat surface in the house.

When the appropriate time came one of the elders would ask us to hold hands as a family and say grace on this special occasion.

Then we would all try to eat politely and join in the table conversation. After each serving dish had made the rounds several times we'd pat our bellies and swear we couldn't eat another bite. Following this family feast the tables were cleared and the dishes piled up for washing and drying.

The women gathered in the kitchen to tend to those chores while putting things back in order and discussing family affairs. The men and the kids would retire to the television, sofas, beds, recliners, benches for a brief rest. Some of us kids would go outdoors to shoot bb guns, hunt for bugs or maybe fall alseep in a tree house. After an hour or so of quietude, we'd all wander back into the kitchen to see what we missed. Begin Round 2.

I am thankful for having known such days and such family memories.

I'd like to go back there and hear the story of how Uncle J.T. And Uncle Linden went deer hunting down near Idabel and managed to shoot some farmer's prize winning hog by mistake. And how they escaped without anyone returning fire. I'd like to re-hear the story of how my dad ran his daddy's car into a mule on his and mom's honeymoon. And I'd like to spend a little more time eavesdropping in the kitchen to hear the ladies' family secrets.

Here's to hoping that on this Thanksgiving Day you remember the best parts of the past and pass them along to the youngsters so busy making memories of their own.

And may your favorite team win.

Happy Thanksgiving folks.

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Comment by Rick Reiley on November 18, 2012 at 11:02am

Reminds me of another memory. My mother in law always made carrot jello and a zucchini casserole. Neither of which was ever eaten or touched. But it wasn't Thanksgiving or Christmas without those two things on the table. She never minded that they weren't appreciated. It was simply her duty to prepare them. 

Comment by Rick Reiley on November 18, 2012 at 11:00am

Of course WIffle!

Comment by wiffledust on November 18, 2012 at 9:59am

thank you so much for this contribution, rick! i was recently listening to comic jackie cooper talk about thanksgiving at italian american houses back in the day. everyone made every type of food under the sun AND a turkey, just because you were "supposed to make the turkey", and then everyone would fight about why nobody ate the turkey! it was very funny, and i guess you had to be there. but that was the point. you have to be there. and i'm so glad you let us "be there" for your memories. do i have your permission to share this on our  new wiffle magazine at 

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