Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Nov.16, 2007

Thankful for memories

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Some years I feel a sense of panic about preparations for the holidays, but that feeling hasn't struck this year. Maybe it will come eventually. Or maybe I'm old enough now to realize that whether or not my house is squeaky clean, whether or not the decorations are up, the important thing is being with family and friends and being grateful for the many blessings we have.

One thing I'm particularly grateful for is the gift of memories. And some of my favorite memories revolve around the Thanksgiving holiday. For many years, we alternated between going to Uncle Bud and Aunt Edith's farm near Council Grove and having them join us at our farm near Burns. These were usually noisy affairs. Or at least the kitchen was noisy where the women congregated to cook and chat about this and that. There was always more than enough food - a stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, bread, lime or cherry gelatin salad and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. After the meal, the women stayed in the kitchen to clean up and the men gathered in the living room to watch football - or snooze. We kids usually ran around outside if it was warm enough or played board games inside if it wasn't.

Uncle Bud died in November 1999 and Dad died in November 2002 so our Thanksgivings have changed. Edith now goes to her daughter and son-in-law's home in Kansas City for a few days before and after Turkey Day, where son-in-law Ames does the bulk of the cooking. And Mom now joins us at our home, where husband Art is the main chef for our Thanksgiving meal.

Although neither Mom nor I have spent Thanksgiving with Edith in recent years, we try to find a date close to the holiday to visit her. That day was Sunday. Mom and I headed for Council Grove, stopping along the way so I could take pictures of the Konza Prairie at the overlook on Highway 177 and at other picturesque spots. Mom asked how the sights could be that different from the other multiple times I've stopped over the years. I responded, only half-joking, that the light, shadows and colors change from day to day and even from hour to hour.

On our way down, I asked Mom what she remembered about Thanksgiving when she was growing up. She said her family normally didn't have turkey, but had chicken instead since they raised them on their farm near Dwight. They often went to her Aunt Hannah and Uncle Richard's home to celebrate. Mom smiled as she recalled one occasion when Edith and their cousin Linnea hid the dirty pots in the oven because they were tired of washing dishes.

I asked if Mom remembered the prayer that her Dad - my Grandpa Mostrom - used to say at mealtime.

"Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed," she answered, almost without hesitation.

It made me think about the prayer sister Gaila and I used to recite in unison: "For food we eat, for clothes we wear, for homes we have and loving care, we thank thee, God, our father."

Daughters Mariya and Katie prefer: "Our hands we fold, our heads we bow, for food and drink, we thank Thee now."

After we arrived at Edith's house in Council Grove, she shared photos of her son's recent retirement ceremonies from his 40-year career in the Air Force.

After lunch, we drove to Parkerville, where Edith taught for two years in the 1950s and Uncle Bud's maternal grandparents, the Varners, had lived. We stopped at the cemetery to get a photo of their gravestone. It struck me as being curious that in all the years I've traveled to Council Grove, I had never been there before. Edith mentioned that the Varners had traveled by covered wagon from Ohio to Kansas. Bud's grandfather Richard was a carpenter and made coffins. His wife Abigail made the silk linings for them.

We traveled on to White City, where I took pictures of the Baxter School. Mom is working on a history of rural schools of Morris County and my part is to take pictures of all them that are still standing.

Upon returning to Council Grove, Edith directed me to the Fairview School, located next to a church. I took pictures of it, too.

I'm sure not many people would have considered our day to have been exciting. Still, I was thankful Mom and Aunt Edith had shared Thanksgiving and school stories with me. It is now another day added to my bank of memories that I'm truly grateful for.

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