The weather is changing and we are moving into winter sports seasons. Halloween blew by like a leaf on a gusty day, only stopping for a brief moment before swirling around us and then disappearing until next year.
Now we are making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our family is going on a road trip to meet with other family members for Thanksgiving. It is our second year to do this so it is beginning to be a new tradition.
I look back to past Thanksgivings and think about the many different ways I have spent the holiday.
When I was young, my family would load up the Rambler and head to the St. Louis area to visit my grandparents. We would leave right after school. There was no "early out" days back then so we did not hit the road until 4 p.m.
Our route was always the same. We traveled down to Fort Madison, Iowa and continued on through Keokuk, Iowa and Quincy, Ill. before finally stopping to eat in Hannibal, Mo. We didn't eat out very often so it was a big treat. Every restaurant there played up the Mark Twain-Huck Finn connection.
We would cross the Mississippi there and by then it would be dark. One of us would always start singing the song "Over the River and Through the Woods," but very quickly my dad would tell us to shut up because it was driving him crazy.
We would get there about 10 p.m. and after hugs, would find our places to lay our heads down in the small two bedroom house and get to sleep.
In the morning we would wake up to the smells of the pies baking for the big feast. The aroma increased thoughout the day as things simmered on the stove and oven.
When I was really little, we had to go outside and into the cellar to find the bathroom. I still remember the dark musty smell and the wooded gray door you had to lift just to go to the toilet. By the time I was about eight, my grandparents had finally put a bathroom in upstairs.
My grandpa would take us to a park and cemetery about mid morning. The cemetery was right next to the park and we loved to go look at the monuments and run through the wide spaces and grass there.
To get to the park we could cut through a wooded section and then a schoolyard where we always stopped to play on the swings.
One year my grandpa pushed me so high I let go and flew off. I wasn't hurt, but he wouldn't push us any more. My sister was mad because she hadn't had her turn yet.
After hours had gone by we would return to a house filled with wonderful scents and new faces as other relatives had arrived.
All the kids sat at a card table in the kitchen. Our plates were filled with a little of everything by parents that didn't allow for picky eaters.
We laughed and giggled our way through eating too much. If we got too loud, some adult from the other room would stick their head in and threaten to whack us upside the head if we didn't quiet down. We would giggle and shush each other until we broke out in laughter again.
There were many choices in pies and all were served with a generous dollop of real whipped cream. Then all of the kids were on dish drying duty while the moms washed dishes and cleaned up the tables.
There was no football on TV and the men settled into the chairs and couch to talk politics and sports. We were sent back outside to run off our dinner. We would squish onto the porch swing and try not to bang it into the house to keep from getting yelled at. There we would make up stories about being on a space ship, roller coaster or some thing else.
Soon parents came and gathered kids and headed out. We found our sleeping spaces and went to bed. Life was good.
I hope that everyone has at least one good memory to fall back on this season. I have had many since then that were not as warm and fuzzy, but in the end I do have many sweet ones to remember.
Have a happy, safe and fun Thanksgiving this year.