There are so many things I miss about Thanksgiving now that the light in my little stone cottage on Dykes Chapel Road has dimmed.
I revisit it often in my mind, especially during the holidays when it was once illuminated with the love and determination of my mama. I shut my eyes and sit quietly as I travel back to the turkey dinners of the past, just like in one of those Hallmark movies where magic swirls through the dark windows and closed doors returning every room with fairy dust to a time long ago.
Beside the stack of boxes labeled “old papers” I can see Mama, the morning sunlight radiating through her auburn hair, propped on the yellow kitchen cabinets with a bit of flour from homemade dumplings on her cheek. Oh, to hear her quietly singing “Silver Bells” one more time!
In real life, her living room is void of life now, covered in dust and more boxes, but I imagine it as it was before, catching glimpses of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on our big console television set with the sounds of marching bands and my brothers flipping the channels back and forth to football games. Daddy is sitting in his favorite rust-orange rocking chair sipping his coffee while poking the fire with PupPup, our toy poodle, under one arm. Mama walks from window to window watching eagerly for Uncle Wayne to arrive before she puts the rolls into the oven.
Now the windows are closed, shutting off all light from the outside, and our little stone cottage where so many holidays were celebrated is just a distant memory. The shell of it is still there, but the children’s laughter no longer fills every room. That feeling of coming home is gone forever.
The last time I visited my childhood home I sat on one of Mama’s squeaky barstools, gently kicking the bar with my feet like I had done as a child so many times. I laid my head on the yellow Formica counter top to see if it felt cold to my face, another memory from childhood. I walked down the long hallway staring at the plush, but aged gold carpets of my youth toward what was my bedroom, running my hands along the indentions in the wood paneling. As I passed by my mama’s bathroom, or as we called it “the big blue bathroom,” I envisioned her standing there, looking in the mirror framed with light blue porcelain tiles around it, putting on lipstick, then blotting her lips as she did so many times before.
I wish with all my heart that everyone reading this story, including me, might slow down a bit this Thanksgiving Day, let the present linger longer, and know that one day these memories will warm our hearts like warm pecan pie right out of the oven.
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