There’s still turkey in the fridge, but Thanksgiving has officially given way to Christmas. I’ve done some cyber-shopping and boxes of ornaments and lights will be opened so the halls can be decked some time this week.
But until then, I’m lingering over memories of Thanksgiving.
For as long as I can remember, we’ve piled our turkey, sweet potatoes and stuffing on creamy gold-rimmed, rose-covered china. This year was no different. The beautiful dishes decorated with pink and yellow petals came into my safe-keeping several years ago, along with the cherry china cabinet that has always held the china and the box of silver. When Mom was finished hosting Thanksgiving dinners, the tradition and the china became my responsibility.
As I hand-washed the china and stemware last Friday, placing it carefully back on the shelves, I thought about the great affection Mom has for these priceless family heirlooms. For her, and now for all of us, the plates and cups represent more than a home-cooked meal. They speak of the love of an older brother.
Mom’s brother, my Uncle Bill, served with the United States Army and was stationed in Germany during World War II. Always fond of nice things, he used his military paycheck to purchase a full set of Wild Rose Limoges China, replete with 22-karat gold edging, at some point during his service to our country. He also bought new furniture for his parents and younger sister and surprised them with the gifts when he returned to his home in Chicago.
Asked about the china again this year, Mom willingly shared that it came from Uncle Bill. And then, she surprised us with a new nugget of information — Uncle Bill served under the famous General George Patton. My sons, her grandsons, know the name Patton from their history books and they were duly impressed. Their great-uncle was a WWII veteran and he served under Patton.
Uncle Bill passed away almost two years ago. The summer after he died, I took my parents to Bill’s house in a Chicago suburb so they could spend the day with his widow. Mom stood in her brother’s tiny office, surrounded by all the little pieces of art he collected and enjoyed. Pieces of a beloved brother who appreciated beauty.
Mom still misses her brother and continues to call his widow every Sunday night. This Thanksgiving, gathered around a table in our farmhouse, the feasting was made sweeter with the shared story of a soldier and his love for his family.
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Philip Pullman, British author
Bless your family. Tell them stories.