There’s no place like home.
As a kid, I can’t count the times I thought to myself, “Man…I can’t wait to get out of this house,” or (mostly) jokingly thought I wanted to run away from the rules and stipulations of my parents. But as an adult, I will admit there is a more-than-occasional longing to return to a simpler time in my childhood home.
And the upcoming holiday is the perfect chance for reflection on those childhood memories.
This Thursday, as I gather around my parents’ new wooden table that’s shined to perfection just for the occasion, it will be one of the only times all year that my entire family spends time together as one – just the way it used to be.
From quiet dinners with just my parents, sister and myself sitting around the table to loading up the car and driving out to my dad’s hometown of Fredericksburg and my aunt and uncle’s country home, this holiday is full of memories I’ll always cherish.
Whether it was listening to my sometimes-obnoxious Aggie cousin and my University of Texas graduate father duke it out during what used to be the schools’ annual Thanksgiving clash or playing a simple board game at my family’s dinner table to hold us over until a turkey coma set in, there’s never been anything quite like the holidays.
We’ve all gone our separate directions in many ways as the years have passed by. I’m working a job I love despite the sometimes odd hours. My sister has now been married for several years. My dad has retired and my mom is just a few years away from retirement herself. My aunt and uncle still live in that same country house, but my cousin is now married with two kids and makes his home down in Meyerland.
My parents’ home has changed in many ways since those early Thanksgiving meals. A little more than two years ago, they decided to remodel their home, transforming it from a place to raise to family into a space they would enjoy in retirement. Then, as they were in the final stages of work, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston – throwing a wrench in the plans. They had to start over from scratch, and we wound up having our annual Thanksgiving dinner with my sister and her husband at their home.
In due time, they have recovered. The tile floor I knew as a kid has been replaced with a wooden one that needs a “Caution: Slippery” sign if you’re walking around without shoes on. That old wooden island has given way to marble, with little flecks of silver interspersed among the dark gray.
But every Thanksgiving, it’s like nothing’s changed. The venue may shift from time to time, but what cannot ever be replaced or taken away are the memories you make with the ones you love.
Thanksgiving has never been a grand spectacle with our family, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. But that’s the way it’s always been, and being back at my parents’ home never fails to instantly transport me back to simpler times – if only for a few hours.
It’s all about the simple pleasures that come with laughing and joking about old war stories from your family’s past, all while stuffing your face with all the turkey and mashed potatoes you can handle.
As Woody Harrelson said in Zombieland: “Enjoy the little things.”
I agree wholeheartedly. They can’t be beat.