Lisa's Lines

Lisa Ingebrand

As a child, Thanksgiving was magical. 

We’d wake to the aroma of turkey roasting and a sparkling house smelling of Pine-Sol. 

Little crystal dishes could be found throughout the house filled with nuts and those melt-in-your-mouth pastel mints, just in case someone couldn’t wait for the big feast. 

The football game was on and pages of Black-Friday deals were passed. 

Relatives’ shoes piled high near the door and big talk and laughter filled the house. 

Folding tables and folding chairs crowded the fun, but everyone had a spot when the turkey was done. 

Mom, dad, grandma, and sometimes an aunt ran the kitchen. The crew operated less than seamlessly, bumping into each other and clamoring for serving ware. Words and laughs were always exchanged even though hardworking browse were wet and tired from the early-morning roasting hours.

Someone would pour wine and take head counts for milk or water. 

I’d steal olives—both black and green—while I helped set the table. 

When the cooked bird finally rested “long enough” dad would cut into it using his electric knife. As the slices of meat fell we would both sneak a taste, savoring the first nibbles, before stacking the rest on a platter. 

Then, SOMEHOW—some way—all the dishes—the potatoes, dressing, salads, ham, gravy, vegetables, and cranberries—made their way to the table right on time. 

We’d all sit and pray before digging into the feast before us. Kids at the kid table. Adults sat at the main. 

Then, came pie and whipped cream and grandma’s famous blueberry dessert. Contests of whip-cream piling and spraying always ensued. But, not a crumb was left on our little paper turkey plates. It was too good to waste. 

I remember thinking clearing the table was such a big job (probably because I had to do it), but then I was allowed to go sprawl out in the living room and color the big turkey page in the paper. 

It’s funny how much you remember and what you don’t. 

Who washed the dishes? Who put everything away? 

Now, as a mom, I’m thankful for so much, including for my own sweet Thanksgiving memories and those who made them possible—the home cleaner, the planner, the inviter, the turkey thawer and roaster, the tablecloth ironer, the folding-chair bringer, the bun bearer, the dessert makers, the wine bringers, the dishwashers, and those uncles who would reluctantly agree to play pingpong with us kids. 

For good and for bad, all the work that goes into the annual feast with family and friends is ever so obvious to my adult self. 

While I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year, I still have a list of food to prepare (actually, I got off easy this year and must only mash potatoes for a small crew). 

My family of four will walk to my parents’ home to feast and celebrate this day, and the smell of roasting turkey will greet my girls, husband, and me at the door. 

But, now, all the work is not missed. 

I recognize and appreciate the efforts that made the meal and gathering possible. It’s not easy, but it is done out of love.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s the true magic of Thanksgiving. 

So, I will let my kids play after the dishes are cleared and will soak in their laughter as I work in the kitchen. Maybe they’ll get an uncle to play pingpong or finish that newspaper coloring page. 

And, maybe, just maybe, they’ll remember these days with smiles and be grateful for all those who love them and make it possible. 


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