Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Things I Learned from Dad


I know the signs of Christmas are everywhere but I'd like to talk today about the holiday that is coming first. Thanksgiving. It happens to be my favorite of all the holidays and I just can't let the moment pass without telling you why. Thanksgiving makes me think of home and family and the lessons I learned from my dad. He's not with us anymore which makes the holiday all the more important to me.

I grew up in a super tiny no-stoplight town. It was a place dominated by strictly blue collar folks who lived paycheck to paycheck and I don't believe there was a single wealthy person in the whole place (although I don't think anybody really thought about it one way or another). We were just friends and neighbors. One year, when my sister and I were just little girls, I remember Dad loading up the back of our car with frozen turkeys. There had to be at least twenty of those things. Could have been thirty. I remember his telling my sister and I to grab our coats. We weren't sure where we were going. It was dark outside and very, very cold that year. As we drove through the quiet town, Dad would stop here and there near a house and he'd hand us a turkey and tell us to sit the turkey by the front door and hurry back. Weren't we supposed to knock? we'd ask. Nope, Dad said. We didn't have to do that.

We stopped near one house in particular and Dad told us to each take a turkey. This family, Dad said, needed two. This mother of five had lost her husband a few weeks earlier and there were so many mouths to feed. Dad said leaving them two was the right thing to do and no one should be hungry for Thanksgiving. I remember asking Dad why we never rang the doorbell so the people could at least thank us. Maybe a little part of me wanted these folks to know we'd provided Thanksgiving turkeys to most of the town. Shoot, I was just a kid. But Dad told us both that we don't give gifts or do good things just for a pat on the back. We do it because it's the right thing.

His words reached me even though I was just child and I've never forgotten them. So every Thanksgiving, I think of Dad and the lessons he taught me. I am thankful for my home, my kids and that we are lucky enough to simply be together.

We all have our holiday memories. I've shared one of mine and would love to hear yours.

32 comments:

Tess MacKall said...

Your dad was a real sweetheart, Regina. I think your dad and mine would have gotten along beautifully.

The most important lessons in life aren't always planned are they? And they seem to stick with us forever. Thank you for sharing, hon.

Amber Skyze said...

Wow, what a touching story. Your dad was a hero to so many lives.
Thanks for sharing your story.

Natalie Dae said...

Oh my goodness, what a lovely man! His kindness set me off crying LOL!

:o)

C. Zampa said...

That absolutely made my day to read that story, Regina. What a beautiful thing for your father to do, and to bring you girls into the picture. That warmed my heart.

My childhood holidays were just one big blur of pretty lights, a warm house, a wonderful-smelling tree, lots of good food.

My grandfather from Seattle would send a big box of Washington apples every year, and the house would smell so fragrant.

And one of my biggest pleasures? My dad, being a postman, got a Whitman's Sampler every year, and I got to have the empty box for my drawing supplies. I cherished that every year. Boy, were things simpler then, or what?

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

Anne Rainey said...

That's a very special thing to do and such a great example he set!

The one memory that sticks out from the others is the time my oldest brother got to come home for the holidays. He was in the military and I missed him so much. I hated him being away. But when he walked through that door I felt like I could breathe again. He was always my anchor growing up and having him back home, where he belonged, was the best thing ever. :)

Anne Rainey said...

C--The mention of your grandfather made me think of my grandma. She used to bake tons of cookies for the holidays. All types too! No one cooked like Nanny. Her cookies, pies, and tea rings were delicious! She didn't have much in the way of money, but no one ever went hungry when she was around. :)

Anthology Authors said...

What a beautiful story, Regina. It seems that few people do things just to help others nowadays. Everyone wants to be recognized. (sigh)

Anthology Authors said...

C--I think things are going to become simpler again because most people won't have a choice. Will that be a bad thing? I don't think so. Hopefully, we'll know what's important again.

Molly Daniels said...

What an awesome lesson Reg! Thanks for sharing.

Casey Sheridan said...

What a wonderful story and what a wonderful man your dad was.

Anne Rainey said...

It seems that few people do things just to help others nowadays.

Anthology Authors--I hear ya. But we can each do our part. We're each just one person, but it's something at least! :)

Anny Cook said...

Thanksgivings were special for me as my birthday is usually around that time. My cousin, Molly is four days younger than me. And our Grandmother's birthday was between ours. So Thanksgiving was the big "birthday" celebration.

Not presents, you understand. Our family didn't do birthday presents. But each of us had our own cake. My cousin was allergic to chocolate so her's was a banana walnut cake and I had the fudge cake.

We always gathered at my Aunt Mary's house and we had a feast in the basement. The smaller gatherings of family, out-laws, and friends were around 40 to 50 people.

The kids usually went out and played in the sand dunes across the road. Everyone pitched in for the clean-up.

The gathering is much smaller these days with many of the older generation gone. And it's been many years since we were there. But the memories are sweet.

Anne Rainey said...

Anny--That sounds like a great family gathering to me. And fudge cake, yummmm! :)

Madison Scott said...

You're dad sounds incredible, Regina. I love that story. Very touching.

Madison Scott said...

C. Zampa,
Fresh apples? MMM, I love he scent of apple cider

Madison Scott said...

Anne, my heart goes out to military and their families. That would be so hard.

Madison Scott said...

Anny, love traditional family gatherings like that!

Regina Carlysle said...

Hi everyone! Just got back from the dentist and I'm feeling a bit woozy...oops almost typed boozy. LOL. Please bear with me while I answer you all keeping in mind I'll prolly had a bunch of typos.

Regina Carlysle said...

My dad was a sweetheart and at Thanksgiving, every year without fail, I remember that night and what we learned about selfless giving. I passed the story on to my own kids and hope they will do the same for their. We don't give gifts for self-glory but to simply help. It's an act of human kindness. No medals. No shout outs from the rooftops of LOOK WHAT I'VE DONE.

Regina Carlysle said...

Dad was a helluva man who performed many kindnesses for others over the years. He touched the lives of many people and still, no one knew but us.

Regina Carlysle said...

I understand Nat. His random acts of kindness were such a part of him. I like to believe my sister and I have followed his example in little ways.

Regina Carlysle said...

C, your family celebrations sound a lot like ours. When I was little Thanksgiving was down the street at Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was a small place and packed with people and food. The kids has a separate table and I hated it. I always wanted to sit with the grown ups and it made me feel left out. Now Thanksgiving is at my house every year. No kid's table is allowed. It's good to be the QUEEN. LOL

My grandpa bought us Whitman Samplers chocolates every Christmas. Those boxes were great for crayons.

Regina Carlysle said...

Anne, I think our solidiers bring us the best memories when they can make it home for the holidays.

Anne Rainey said...

Regina--Glad you survived the dentist chair! :)

Regina Carlysle said...

Anne, I remember my grandma's pies. They were absolutely wonderful and the smells of her homemade bread were all through the house. There's nothing quite like it. Grandpa was a farmer and there was an abundance of fresh veggies...lots of those veggies he shared with our neighbors.

Regina Carlysle said...

Anthology Authors, I've thought about this a lot. Back in the old days it was just a matter of doing the right thing to bring food to a family who'd lost a loved one. They were the kind of people who pulled to the side of the roads when a funeral procession passed by. It was about respect and manner and doing the right thing. I often think that in our busy, crazy world we've turned to organizations to distribute food, Christmas toys, and other things. They are no less generous but there seems to be an impersonal tone to things now that we didn't see back then. I find that sad

Regina Carlysle said...

Thank you, Molly and Casey. I miss Dad every day and simply hope I can, in even some small way, to live the lessons he taught me.

Regina Carlysle said...

All those cakes, Anny! We don't see many large family gatherings these days, do we? Families are so much smaller than they once were.

I have to say the one of the reasons I truly love Thankgsiving is there is no pressure about gifts or spending money. It's about that moment when we all sit together. Families are scattered. Kids rush in, shove food in their faces and rush back out to another practice or school thing or whatever. More and more families can't observe those wonderful evening meals where everyone discusses their day.

Regina Carlysle said...

Yeah, Madision, I was thinking about those apples too. YUM. What a wonderful smell.

Love Thanksgiving Day because of all the smells. It just hangs in the air and smells like heaven has visited my house.

Regina Carlysle said...

Thanks Anne. I can't feel half my face. Even my NOSE. Totally numb and I look like the JOKER when I smile. LOL.

Abigail-Madison Chase said...

beautiful post *tears*

Regina Carlysle said...

Thank you, Abigail!