At this time of year, it's common to write about what we're thankful for. Instead, I'd like to tell you about a tradition in my family. It didn't start out that way. Like most traditions, this one happened once because of circumstances. The second time, circumstances again. The third and fourth times, it was a deliberate choice. I'm talking about weddings.
When my grandmother planned her wedding, she chose Thanksgiving Day because it was the only time my grandfather could leave his job. He was a milkman. For those of you too young to remember, bottles of milk used to be delivered to your doorstep every morning. I remember the Twin Pines milkman coming to our house when I was a child in his white truck with two green trees on its side. Grandpa drove a horse-drawn truck for a dairy in Cairo, Illinois.
My parents met at a roller rink in St. Louis. He was stationed at a near-by Army Air Force base and she was a teenager out with her girlfriends. Mom chose Thanksgiving Day for her wedding because my dad could get a four-day pass. It was wartime and those passes were difficult to come by. Even a one-day pass could be revoked, as happened with one of the groomsmen who was shipped out the day before the wedding. My mom's childhood friend (their mothers were best friends) happened to be home on leave and took the missing man's place. My folks' wedding picture looks a little odd with a sailor in the midst of all the Army guys. An interesting sidenote to this story is that the sailor married the bridesmaid he was paired with, my dad's sister.
Through the conniving of two dear friends, I went on a blind date and found the love of my life. After becoming engaged, talk turned to when we would get married. I mentioned that my mom and her mother were married on Thanksgiving. He didn't mind. He said that would make it easy to remember our anniversary. (Such a kidder.) He worked in a steel mill and getting vacation time wasn't difficult. I was a teacher so I had the four-day weekend. Since our wedding was at noon, one of my students said he'd think about me at kickoff time of the Lions football game.
As mentioned above, this didn't start out to be a tradition. Without any encouragement from me, my daughter chose to carry on the tradition. Now, she's the most organized woman I know. She had everything in place—the church, the hall for the reception, cake, flowers—all well in advance. She had to. They wanted to get married in Kalamazoo where they met and fell in love. Her fiancé had just started medical school in Detroit and she was teaching there. To complicate things a little, her father and I were living in Chicago. With her superb planning, though, everything should have gone off without a hitch. That September, she got a letter from the owner of the reception hall saying he had retired and the hall was going to be torn down—before the wedding. After some long-distance panic and a little scrambling, her wedding was wonderful. It even made the eleven o'clock news as a unique way of celebrating Thanksgiving. (Too bad they didn't know she was the fourth woman in our family to do so.)
Will my granddaughter carry this into the fifth generation? In a way, I hope not. I don't want to even imagine the pressure. Not pressure from her mother or me but pressure she might put on herself to carry on what has become a family tradition. (Can you imagine the press that would get, though?) Since she is only four, she has a long time before planning her wedding—although, she does play "getting married" with her imaginary friend. Now for the reception, she could have turkey and dressing and... (Just kidding!)
When our family gets together on Thursday, we have a lot to be thankful for. Each other, good health, jobs, freedom. And one more thing. We'll thank God we found the wonderful men we married. Men who were willing to give up Lions football to walk down the aisle.
PS I'm thankful, too, for wonderful friends who are helping celebrate the re-launch of my novel, Switched, in its revised and electronic form. If you haven't already, check out Nancy Gideon's blog Last Friday, she showcased me and my book. Thanks, Nancy.