I’m usually not much of one for nostalgia and tend to resent the selective memory that seems to dominate the way some folks look back on the day when… but I would have to say that I have spent more time than usual this year remembering the holidays of my youth. Truth be told, I have smiled many times thinking about Thanksgivings spent on that farm back in Todd County, Kentucky.
I’ve deliberately remembered aunts, uncles and cousins who came to spend the day. Some who had moved away after the War so they could find decent jobs in Chicago or Detroit. Some who lived sixty or seventy miles away in Calloway County. Some who drove all day and some who drove a little over an hour.
Uncle Bob and Aunt Billie, Uncle Lyman and Aunt Betty Jo, Uncle Roy and Aunt Jennie, Uncle Woody and Aunt Katie, Uncle James and Aunt Imogene, Uncle Thomas and Aunt Imogene, Uncle Corky and Aunt Imogene… “Imogene” must have been a mighty popular name back then. There were others but I’d have to help putting the right names on each couple. So many cousins I’d have to have even more help to name them all. (I hope they’ll all forgive the early morning memory lapse and the passing of too many years.)
I remember the table loaded down with all kinds of food, more than we’d see any other day of the year. Dishes the kinfolk had made and brought with them. Mom’s homemade yeast rolls and cornbread stuffing. More desserts than we could eat in a week.
I remember the womenfolk busy in the kitchen, the menfolk talking in the living room. Cousins playing in the hay loft. After the noon meal, after they’d rested a bit to let all that food settle, the men and the boys big enough to be men would go off hunting for a while. The women would clean up the table, cover the leftovers that could sit out until evening, put the rest in the fridge, wash the dishes and then visit in the living room. The kids would go back to their games and romping about the farm.
So many memories from a little boy’s mind… so much visiting, so much playing, so many stories. But the thing I may treasure the most from all of those years of early memories is the sound of laughter.
Laughter in the kitchen, laughter in the living room, laughter around the table, even laughter in the hayloft. I love the way each person’s laugh is so different and yet at the same time, so resonant. The way they all mingle together in a harmonious cacophony. The uplifting of the heart, the reflection of the soul.
Maybe laughter is a mask, maybe a diversion. Maybe it’s a quick and shallow escape from the deeper things that plague us. Or maybe it’s God playing in our hearts, angels dancing in our voices. Maybe it’s love let loose, joy’s delightful foreplay. Maybe it’s the children we once were set free to do somersaults in the hallway.
Whatever it is, I hope that this season of gratitude stirs plenty of laughter in your heart and that it’s shared wildly, deeply, and exuberantly with those who care about you. And that you know that the God Who Loves You takes great delight in your purest pleasures.
Peace and joy to you, my friends.