I move slowly this morning, body still tired from the preparations and celebration of the past week. I am in no hurry as I begin the task of straightening the disarray that comes of having filled the house with company. As I go through the motions of restoring order, generations of my family feel close at hand. I gather tablecloths and head outside to shake errant crumbs of oyster dressing made from mom's recipe onto the lawn. One bite of that dressing transports me to Hill City, Kansas and a far-too-small house full-to-bursting with our huge, rambunctious family.
Back inside I pull apart tables to remove leaves added to make room for my extended family. I slide the scaled-down tables back into their usual places where they are disguised as end tables and accent pieces the rest of the year, and smile knowing their true purpose is to provide a gathering place for those I love. I slip the extra chairs I have collected through the years in order to provide adequate seating for all who return each Thanksgiving day into discrete spots throughout the house.
As I disassemble the Thanksgiving scene voices and laughter echo in my memory; some from yesterday, some from years ago. I picture someone I love perched on each wooden seat as I return it to the place it will remain until November rolls around again. My heart is full as I send up a silent prayer. It is only right that this diverse group of characters fills my house each year on Thanksgiving, because in truth they are the gift for which I am most thankful.
Mama Kat: What seven people would you want to invite to Thanksgiving dinner? The truth is the answer is always my family. I have to cheat and tweak the number to more like 27 than 7, but the answer stays my family.