We got out of school early on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Not the whole school, just us. Back in the day, that was a full school day and vacation was only Turkey Day and Friday. There is nothing more delicious than to leave a full classroom of your friends and head off on holiday! We only grew up knowing one grandparent. The other three died before we were born, or when we were babies. So, Grandma was it. We went to see her for a week each summer (helped that she lived an hour from the beach so we got to spend a day there) and then we went there every Thanksgiving.
So after waving sadly, yeah right, to our friends we'd pile into the loaded car. Mama would be driving, because we'd pick Daddy up at work. Sometimes we'd get to go to Cherokee Market and get some penny candy for the trip. Remember those little brown paper grocery bags, just big enough to hold one can of Campbell's soup? Well, we'd each - me, Linney and David - have our own bag. Now that bag had to last the eleven hour trip, both ways. But how special it was! We each would have our bag of stuff to keep us busy, books, coloring books, games, etc. We each had our pillow and we took turns getting to sit by the windows in our piled high back seat.
Daddy worked at the government plants in Oak Ridge, TN and workers had security clearance. So I remember having to park outside the big fence and guard shack and wait for Daddy to come out. How happy he would look and how happy we were to finally be on our way. There were three of us sharing the back seat and we had our share of "don't touch me" and "get off my pillow." But we also had our share of game playing, singing songs and watching the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina pass by. And we got to eat out! Big happening in our family. Spartanburg, SC had a McDonalds and that was where we stopped.
Around midnight we'd pull into my grandma's driveway. She and my Aunt Cora Mae would be waiting up to corral us sleepy kids into the house.
When I think of Thanksgiving, my memories include the food and the people, of course. But it seems to always begin with that journey. And I realize now that all the things I'm so thankful for now, can't be separated from the journey that led to them.
So today - I'm thankful for the journey.