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Friday, November 25, 2011

Vignettes from the Past


All went well at our house for the Thanksgiving feast. Uncle Gene and Aunt Georgette joined us and brought ambrosia and spinach/pepperoni bread. Cousin Jeannette drove six hours to eat with us and brought a pumpkin/pecan pie. Daughter #3's true love brought homemade cranberry sauce and a broccoli casserole. Daughter #2 arrived with her laptop and work to do, but she was very attentive at dinner in listening to the conversation. Daughter #1, as usual, was my extra pair of hands. She washed pots, provided beverages, and picked up Granddad while hubby was picking up Daughter #2 at the train station.

Hubby carved the turkey.

It's hectic putting a big feast together, but the part I enjoy comes when everyone has had their fill and sits around the table to talk. We seldom see my father's side of the family. So it was especially nice to catch up with what has been happening in their life.

Eventually, the conversation came round to family genealogy. I do not know much about my father's family, but I told some brief stories about some of family members I had known. My uncle thought I should write everything down. However, all I really have are some short vignettes from the past--brief incidents and interactions that became embedded in my mind because they were either funny, tragic, or pointed out someone's unique character.

For instance, my Great Aunt Marion--my grandfather's sister--was truly devout. Once, when I was staying with my grandfather, Aunt Marion came to visit. However, at a certain time, all conversation ended. She was involved in saying a Novena. Every hour for nine hours on the hour, she pulled out a prayer card and recited the prayer. My grandfather and I had to be patient and quiet. As soon as she had finished the prayer, the conversation went on where it had left off.

Yes, I write fiction, but I find inspiration in people and their real-life experiences. I love characters--and we have been blessed with a wealth of relatives who have been fascinating individuals. Hosting the Thanksgiving feast is work, but for someone who has spent a lifetime studying human nature, the effort of all that cooking and baking is well worth it.

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