Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Memories

The holidays are just around the corner.

I know this. Yet, I keep telling myself they are not.

Three and half months ago when I lost my Dad, people told me the holidays will be tough. I thought to myself, "Why would the holidays be tougher than any other day?". My dad was a larger-than-life figure in my every day world. I couldn't imagine how Thanksgiving or Christmas would be any different.

I talked to my Dad everyday by phone (sometimes two times a day). I had a routine of calling my parents before I went to bed every night. I had done it since college and my routine never changed after getting married. Justin would even remind me if I was busy with something at
home. Needless to say, my Dad was a large part of my life and so I didn't understand why the holidays would make me miss him anymore than any other day.

Now that the holidays are approaching - I understand. The holidays are harder.

I grew up with an amazing family. I had two parents who taught my sisters and I that the holidays were about family and family traditions. They created such amazing traditions for us
that we all have passed them to our own children.

In honor of my Dad, I thought I would share my Thanksgiving traditions with you.


As a little, girl my parents would make a large Thanksgiving meal. Each year we would beg my mom to use paper plates (we didn't want to wash dishes), but she always used her wedding china. Mom would make a Turkey and Dad would carve it. My sisters and I would sneak by him and grab a piece of warm turkey and my Dad would scold us to "stay out" until dinner. However, Dad would always manage to drop a few pieces of turkey for our family dog, Midnight, who always stood next to Dad while he carved the turkey. Smart dog!

During dinner we would go around the table and say what we were thankful for that year. I was always the sappy one. I would always mention how thankful I was for my family (my parents and my sisters) and I would be in tears. My sisters would roll their eyes and ask if my turn was over. I always enjoyed hearing how my parents were thankful for each other. My dad always had some wise crack...but would be very sentimental as well. I will never forget the year Michelle announced that she and Tom were "thankful for the baby they would welcome in June (Maddie)," or the year Justin was thankful for "Kristen's new rack". I was pregnant and was carrying a chest I never had before. My mom had to explain this one to my 85-year grandmother whom I am certain thought Justin was referring to plastic surgery. I will never forget my Dad's face. It was red with embarrassment, yet he was wiping the tears from his eyes because he was overwhelmed with laughter. I love that I have that memory of my Dad...even if it came because of my husband's odd sense of humor. Thanks Justin!

Each year after dinner, we would pack up our left-overs and head to downtown Indianapolis. When we were young, we would spend the night at Embassy Suites. Deb was always fascinated that the bathrooms had telephones in them. She would make me call her in the bathroom and pretend to have a "real" conversation (Hey Deb, "Chick-a Mock-a La").

The day after Thanksgiving we would head to the mall. When we were young, before Circle Center was built, we would head to L.S. Ayers. I loved looking at the window displays. I can still remember my Mom and I hunting the little girl who was ice skating around a light post in her plaid skirt. Years later, the Indiana State Museum displayed these historic window displays as an exhibit and my family made sure to see it once again.

Our shopping trips would also include a trip to the "talking tree" and the cookie shop where kids could ice their own cookies. I think more icing went into my mouth than on my actual cookie. My sisters, though much older than I, also participated in the cookie eating. :)

Last year, at the Circle of Lights with my Mom and Dad.

I can't remember a Thanksgiving that my family missed the lighting of the tree on Monument Circle. I can remember watching this event on top of my Dad's shoulders. Then there were my teen years... I watched standing a few feet away from my parents. There was the first year I took Justin with me... Justin watched the tree lighting while talking with a homeless man (he has a soft heart) while I held my Dad's hand. On the other side of my Dad, my Mom was holding my Dad's other hand. As the years went by...a grand-daughter or grand-son watched the tree lighting on top of my Dad's shoulders...just like I once did.

The past 5 or 6 years, we have put the meaning of "black Friday" to shame. You would have thought that just my sisters and my mom would be up a 5 a.m. for black Friday shopping. Not a chance! My Dad wouldn't have missed out on the fun in a million years. To this day we continue our hotel stay in downtown Indy...so we always meet in the lobby at 5 a.m. on black Friday. My sisters and I joke in the elevator that we will most likely need to wait on Mom and Dad... Every year...my folks sat in the lobby...waiting on us. My Mom would be applying her make up...Dad would have on his "robber cap", as we called it, and his leather coat with cigars in his pocket.

I loved our shopping trips. Dad would drop us off at the door. He would park and read the paper. He would smoke his cigars and talk to other men doing the same. Sometimes, especially if we were at a toy store shopping for grand kids, he would venture inside. He would complain about the crowd, but would always walk out with a gift better than any of us could come up with.

I'm sure there are many other Thanksgiving memories that I could share...ones that I'm sure will come to me in the next few days. It will tug at my heart when I can't turn to my Dad and say, "Hey, Dad - remember when...".

I think I am in a little shock that I am about to celebrate my first holiday without my Dad. But it is fitting that it is Thanksgiving. I will forever be thankful for my father.


Anonymous said...

It was nice to remember all of our traditions, Kris. Though I am in tears.

Dad would be proud of you.


Jessica said...

I love you Kris. You have such an amazing family. We all miss your dad. He was always in the spirit of it all no matter if it was a holiday, a cheerleading competition, a shopping trip, or just a ordinary day at the house. You are so like your dad Kris in so many ways. Happy Thanksgiving babe. I am always so proud of you.
Much love!

Nickie Eisele said...

He'll be with you, Kris! He may not be visible, but you will sense him in everything that you see and do. He wouldn't miss this holiday! In fact, he will have the best view for the Lighting of the Tree! I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. Be thankful for all of the wonderful memories that you can share and the traditions that you can carry on with Jackson. When my family shares what they are thankful for this year, I will be sure to add that I'm thankful and blessed to have such a wonderful "second family" and for the years I was able to share family moments and holidays with Dad. I love you guys! Nickie