Home for the Holidays Part 1
For many people, spending time with family and friends can make for joyful holidays. For others, it is a time of sadness when reflecting back to past holidays and loved ones that are no longer with us. But as holidays evolve, we are left to choose what effect they will have on us.
The two biggest holidays in the York home were Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had to laugh when I read my mother’s description of Thanksgiving 1955 in her letter written to my father as he was being held in the Miami jail awaiting trial. Close family friends invited us to join them although it appears my mother was left to cook the dinner.
Honey, we really had a hilarious Thanksgiving – Ha! Ha! I had most of the dinner to take to the Flynn’s. They wanted to eat at 6:00 and it was about 6:15 before I even got there. I worked nearly all day long on that stuff.
I parked the car across the street from their house and Ron started across and then started back. I gave him a little push and it pushed him into a car that was parked there and his nose started bleeding. Well, he and I were both in tears. I got him cleaned off and we ate. Ron ate a good dinner. He really clung to me though. He told everyone that he made the pies. He really was a doll.
Darling, the usual bunch was there. Brownie had his girlfriend but other than that it was just family. Honey, I could hardly stand being there without you. It was almost more than I can bear separated from you.
Our Tennessee Thanksgivings usually included friends at our table – a tradition my dad continued after my mother passed away in 1985. That was the case in 1996 when normally I would have helped him serve but on that day, I had no energy at all.
Throughout the dinner my dad watched me with concern. I left before our guests and fell into bed when I got home. He called to check on me, offered to take me to the hospital but I felt too weak to bother. The following morning I could not find the strength to shower and called my dad for help. He rushed me to the emergency room at Baptist Hospital where they put me in an examination room immediately and began running tests. A doctor came in to explain that I was on my way to a heart attack. I told the nurse that my father was in the waiting room probably coming unglued and that they needed to bring him back for the explanation.
My dad stood at the foot of my bed and listened to what they were saying. My gruff, strong dad had a look of fear in his eyes that he could not hide. He had lost his wife of nearly 40 years to cancer and now he was being told he could lose his son.
From there they rushed me into surgery. I was later told that I had blockage to half of my heart and had suffered a mild heart attack. I was very fortunate that I had not waited another day as they assured me it could have easily been fatal.
After my dad passed away, I would go to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with my two aunts. I needed and wanted the family connection. Now that they have both passed away, I am blessed to have several friends who year after year try to include me in their family Thanksgiving celebration – I am grateful that they allow me to always decline.
It probably makes no sense to others but Thanksgiving alone is less sad than being included in another family’s tradition no matter how much I love them. It’s easier for me to think of it as just a “day off” at home with my Calico baby, Miss Trixie Delight, reflecting on cherished Thanksgiving memories from long ago.
J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.
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