Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I've been thinking a lot about tradition in the last few weeks. What are the things in my life--and especially my childhood--that happened every year that I really treasure? There are many, but at the very top of my list is Thanksgiving.

What do I love about Thanksgiving? Well, first and foremost, The Parade. Oh, yes. That tasty bit of commercialism put on by Macy's. When I was a little girl--as young as three and maybe even two--my Grandpa would take me into NYC for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade every year. He would drive us into the city--an adrenaline-inducing experience once I was old enough to understand the rules of the road--and we would get out somewhere near Central Park. Then, we'd walk what seemed like 10 exhilarating miles to my little feet. Finally, we'd find our place on the sidewalk, Central Park to our back, posh houses (including Billy Joel's, one year!) across the street, and very very cold concrete under our bums (we put blankets down, but they only did so much).

I cannot express to you the wonder of The Parade up close--especially when I was so small. The marching bands going by. The huge balloons, and wondering if they could navigate this building corner, or that tree. The ornate floats. The clowns that actually perform for you whenever the parade has to stop and march in place for a "commercial break." It was all mesmerizing and fantastical.

There are definite Parade Memory Highlights. There was the year that Superman's balloon hand get severed and fell just a little down the road from us. The crazy thrill of seeing the ACTUAL New Kids on the Block waving from their float (OMG, OMG, OMG!!! That's really them!!!!). The year when my brother was just old enough to really enjoy the parade--he had a thing for clowns and tried to run out and join them (Mom had him on a kind of "leash" made with telephone cord, so he didn't get far. The policeman told her she was the smartest lady in the crowd that day).

And, always, intrinsic to all of these memories, my Grandpa. My Grandpa standing behind me, and shouting, "Look, Allie! It's Bull Moose!!!" (It was Bullwinkle.) And, believe me, my Grandpa was loud, so the whole block heard. My Grandpa edging my brother and me closer to the barricade, so that we were practically directly under it, so that we could have the best view. My Grandpa, hooting louder than all of us when we walked through the echoing tunnel that lead us to and from our far-away parked car. My Grandpa, parallel parking the last year we went to The Parade (I was in my early teenage years), and telling my Grandma that "Rhoda, we'll get into this space just fine," even after he had been trying for at least ten reverses, while my brother and I sat in the backseat with our eyes tightly clamped shut.My Grandpa, getting us back to Long Island just in time to turn the television on and see The Parade broadcast, while we "ooohed" and "aaaahed" over the performances the people on the float gave to the cameras, and how well (or, more thrillingly, not-so-well) each balloon fared for the rest of the walk down The Parade Route.

In two years, I'm hoping to go back to The Parade with my own child (named after my Grandpa, who is no longer with us), and with my child's "Grandpa." The experience will undoubtedly be very different--for starters, my child's Grandpa will be a quiet man, reserved--not at all inclined to yell about Bull Moose for all to hear. But, I'm hoping the memories will be just as warm, the place and the event just as magical.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with traditions, old and new, and memories of family that last a lifetime.


SallyBR said...

Loved this post! Being a foreigner, I never quite "got" the parade, but reading your description I completely understand its appeal...

nice post!

Shelby said...

I know I'm late with this Allison - but I hope your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Things have been busy lately (hence my lack of blog posts!) I'm hoping to have more time to catch up on my blog reading SOON! I am working on the Family Recipes round up and hope to have it up by tonight. :-)