The day before Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite days of the year. When I was little we’d make the two-hour car trip from Colby to Hays, Kansas, where my relatives lived. Not sure if that was so much fun for my parents, but I never minded it.
I always liked staying at my Grandma Schmidt’s. Even though the five of us were packed into her little house, it was fun. I’d sleep on the couch in the living room, my brother and sister would crash on a foam mattress on the floor. I’d stay up and listen to the adults’ conversations. I don’t recall what they were about, but they were always interesting to me. Then The Tonight Show would come on. I feel sorry for the youngsters out there who never watched Johnny Carson. You see back in my day, he was pretty much the only late night game in town, and people watched religiously. Since he came on at 10:30, I wasn’t usually up for it, but on Thanksgiving Eve I was, and usually he’d read some letters from kids’ school assignments that were always silly, and he’d find a way to make them seem all the more funny with his impeccable timing, quick wit, and a double entendre or two.
I’d fall asleep listening to the ticking of the clock, which chimed on the hour. Nothing spectacular about that, just that we didn’t have a chiming clock at home, and there was something about that white background noise that was soothing.
In high school, we lived only a short hop away from Hays, so overnight visits were no longer necessary, which was just as well because Thanksgiving weekend was awesome party time weekend. Graduates were back from college, Main Street was hopping. Many good times were had the night before Thanksgiving. Same with when I was in college, and returned home to see old friends. And later it became the day when my little brother would finally get to come home for a weekend after being stuck at the Air Force Academy since the summertime.
After college, work happy hours were the norm if I wasn’t on the road to trek back to see the family, where we’d play heated games of dominoes or Catch Phrase or Scattergories. The day before Thanksgiving isn’t quite as grand as it used to be. Kids tend to take something away from the carefree appeal it once had. But I still find it a relaxing day, and even though today I had way more help in the kitchen than I needed, it was still nice.
A safe and happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011