November 2, 2010

A Look Back

Now that Halloween has passed, I can appropriately post about Thanksgiving. I've been working on a Thanksgiving vignette ever since reading my November issue of Real Simple, which included vignettes from several authors. I sent my draft to my writers' group for their feedback at our last meeting, and I've finally gotten around to finishing my vignette after processing their edits and comments.
The Thanksgiving Job
Until three years ago, Thanksgiving with my family involved working at our family-owned-and-operated Christmas tree farm. Since the long, holiday weekend was also opening weekend for the farm’s Christmas season, Dad needed all hands on deck, which included not only all the family members but also many community friends. Every kid in our community grew up hearing tales of working at the tree farm, and most wanted to be part of the action.
As a little girl I was charged with easy, menial tasks like cutting baling twine or running to get this or that for Dad. As I grew older, I sawed down trees, dragged cut trees from the fields, and helped load them into cars. I made popcorn and sold hot chocolate and Cokes to customers in my early teens, and I “worked inside” in later years making wreaths and garlands as younger workers took over the snack stand. On really busy days, I was an official greeter, welcoming customers and directing them where to find their special tree on our 30-acre farm.
Mom always “worked inside” the Christmas tree house chatting with customers, decorating wreaths, and making bows. Thanksgiving Day usually found Mom splitting her time between the tree house filling customers’ orders and our own house making sweet potato soufflĂ© and broccoli salad for Thanksgiving dinner.
Many families came to pick out their family’s Christmas tree after their Thanksgiving dinner, but my family’s dinner was always late—after dark, after the farm was closed, and after everyone showered and changed. We’d gather around the Thanksgiving smorgasbord with Grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, and occasionally friends. Many times Dad would tear up telling us how thankful he was for our Heavenly Father, a good growing season, his family, and his health. Sometimes we’d go around the table to share the specific things for which we were thankful.
We’d eat dessert late into the evening, as we caught up on the day’s football scores between the bombarding commercials of not-to-be-missed deals available the next morning. Rarely did we venture out early for shopping on Black Friday, for we were exhausted after working hard all day, knowing we’d be working at the farm all day Friday and Saturday too.
Now on the farm Dad grows landscape trees, which allows us a more normal Thanksgiving. I always enjoyed our busy Thanksgiving routine—working hard, eating late, never traveling—but the calmer, more typical Thanksgivings we’ve enjoyed the past several years have been a welcome change. We’re still together as a family, and we still eat tons of delicious food; but there’s more time to rest and relax, play games, and visit with my beloved family.

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