Remembrance of Thanksgivings Past
It seems my memories of childhood Thanksgivings are little more than a blur of food, faces and chilly afternoons playing outside with cousins. I honestly cannot remember a single particular Thanksgiving–except Thanksgiving of 1963.
For any of you alive at the time, that date needs no explanation. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated only six days prior to Thanksgiving that year. The nation became paralyzed in the days after his death. Thanksgiving seemed strained and artificial. What did we, as individuals as well as a nation, have to be thankful for?
We had been glued to our black & white TVs for days. Life essentially stopped as we watched Jacqueline Kennedy and her two children carry out their duties during their final days as occupants in the White House. I remember watching John-John, as the media had dubbed the Kennedy’s three year old son, saluting as his father’s casket moved by on its caisson, preceded by riderless Black Jack, a horse whose name hit me as fateful, as Jackie’s father had been known as “Black Jack” Bouvier.
I knew this minutiae because I had been focused on Jackie Kennedy from the moment she became a national figure during her husband’s campaign. She was everything I wanted to be: a Debutante with a Vassar education, who studied in Paris, was a reporter and photographer, and now lived in the White House, restoring the deteriorating structure with proper 18th Century historic details. Perfect hair, couture clothing and impeccable taste.
No doubt about it: though I wasn’t even a teenager yet, I was Jackie’s biggest fan. I learned to sew at 10 in order to copy her A-line dresses.
Enmeshed with the national trauma was the knowledge that my maternal grandmother, whom I adored, had only a few weeks to live. One month later, December 27th, I would be attending her funeral.
My mother’s sadness that year was palpable, a quiet reminder of loss that made attempts at frivolity seem utterly incongruous.
As the years have gone by, the solemn imprint of 1963’s Holiday Season made me determined to make each Thanksgiving and Christmas a special occasion, filled with family and friends, tables laden with favorite foods, and good cheer engendered by amiable companions and agreeable libations. I relegated All Saint’s Day as the time to think about all those who have gone before me in years past. Thanksgiving and Christmas should be happy occasions, unmarred by sadness and indelibly remembered as joyous celebrations. It is something I strive to do each year: make the holidays meaningful, upbeat occasions, no matter what else is going on in the world.
This Thanksgiving, as we launch CarolinaLifestyles, I am especially grateful for your support. It is with gratitude for your continued interest that I offer this Thanksgiving blessing:
May your days ahead be filled with adventure. May no burden be carried alone. May your goals be reached and your life be filled with unexpected joy. And may your heart overflow with gratitude for the many blessings, big and small, that come your way.