All of my life, Thanksgiving was a time to spend the day with family, overeat Thanksgiving dinner, and relish the fact that I had the perfect family life. In my young years, everyone in my family was alive and well. The family was growing in one way or another, but until my grandfather, George Byer passed away in 1980, when I was 24 years old, I had never faced death in any way…never lost a loved one. I think it was then that I realized that things were never going to be the same again. Life would go forward, but there was no guarantee that each new year would find us celebrating with the same loved ones every year. Changes are inevitable, and loved ones going to heaven…it’s all a part of what is known as the circle of life. Still, it leaves me feeling more than a little bit lonely as the holidays, and life in general embark upon irreversible changes time after time.
The first years without your parents are always among the hardest. I never considered the possibility that I could one day be an orphan, and yet, I am. An orphan is, after all, someone whose parents have passed away. We usually think of an orphan as a child, but in reality, most people will become orphaned at some point in their lifetime…unless their parents outlive them. Anyway, I found myself an orphan, and the holidays…every day, in fact…have never been the same. The holiday gatherings are much smaller affairs, as my sisters and I have redefined our holidays around our own families, as opposed to a large gathering of six families. While that is ok, and as it should be, there is still a small feeling of loneliness, because we don’t always see each other on the holidays now. Yes, we try to get together at least once before Christmas and a yearly picnic, just like my mom’s family has done, but the other holidays seem to have drifted into the category of small family gatherings, rather that large family gatherings. And, I have learned that in this life, you have no guarantee that your holidays will be the same from year to year, even if there is no loss in the family, because people also move away, and that changes the face of the holidays.
Still, Thanksgiving is a day to reflect on the things we have to be thankful for, and for me there are many. My daughters and their families are happy and well, and like my parents families did in the past, mine is growing, as my grandson, Chris Petersen and his fiancé, Karen Cruickshank are starting their own little family. We have wonderful friends, my daughter Corrie Petersen’s in-laws, Becky and Duane Skelton, who have graciously included Bob and me into their Thanksgiving holiday, and we can go to my daughter, Amy Royce’s house for gatherings too, or they can come here, so the core of my perfect family is still in there, it’s just different now. While the years have changed the face of our family gatherings, I still have a great family life, and while I can’t call it the perfect family life anymore, because my parents are in Heaven, I can still call it a very blessed family life, and for that I am very thankful.
It seems that with any gathering you have with a bunch of people, at some point, the men gather in their group and the women in theirs. That way the men can talk cars, crops, trains, or whatever else men find to talk about, that women would find quite boring. The men would be just as bored with girl talk, so it is really to everyone’s advantage. There is still one little problem though…the kids. You would think that they would just go play, thereby keeping themselves occupied and out of everybody’s hair, but just like the younger sibling, these kids, as often as not, tend to want to be right in the middle of the conversation…with the adults. It isn’t that these men are necessarily discussing something that the children shouldn’t be hearing, but often just that it is a little bit above their heads, and most kids tend to ask a multitude of questions.
Quite likely the men tried to get this little boy to go play, but then he either went crying to his mom or he just got into mischief and so she sent him to sit with the men. It was probably what he wanted to do anyway. Hanging with the little kids…or especially the women…would be a horrible thing to have to do. I suppose he figured that it was worth the risk of getting a spanking to have his mother send him to sit with the men…especially since his dad would not be too likely to go against what his mother said, when she said that he was to watch him.
I also noticed that the men were not looking at him like they were ready to “kill” either, so my guess would be that he figured he had better behave himself so he could stay there. A little boy being as quiet as a church mouse is less likely to get into trouble in a place he can’t just leave either, because now that his mother told his dad to keep an eye on him, he has to stay put. That could get ugly if he caused problems. So my guess is that he just sat quietly and listened to the guy things the men were talking about, and probably learned a few things, if he paid close attention.