La Verne Magazine
From the Editor...
by Erin Grycel
At the age of 5, my definition of Thanksgiving was dinner at Mama's
house, my great-grandmother's house, on Mar Vista Avenue in Pasadena. With
my new dress, tricycle and hand-made turkey decoration, I eagerly awaited
the holiday. In my young mind, the day symbolized a huge selection of food
and a day to see all 50 of my relatives.
Walking up to the house, I would proudly carry the mashed potatoes and
anticipate playing the piano with my cousins. When the back door opened,
I was always smothered with hugs and kisses. Chattering filled the air;
women complemented one another on their dresses, while the men debated over
which college teams would go to the Rose Bowl. The annual "Twilight
Zone" marathon would be blasting on the television in the family room,
and the sound of feet pattering up and down the stairs could be heard throughout
As I would make my way into the crowded dining room, I would always
stop to watch my great-grandmother busily cooking over the stove. I could
almost taste the turkey, the simmering gravy, the green beans and the cranberries
in the air. The door between the kitchen and the dining room was constantly
swinging as my great-grandmother moved with the food. Admiring her strength,
I always thought that she worked the whole time, but, actually, it was her
special day to shine. Without the family, she claimed that life was incomplete.
Her motto was, "The more the merrier ... invite whomever you want to
dinner; they will become part of our family." The holiday was an annual
tradition; but, secretly, my great-grandmother was cultivating our familial
Over the years, Thanksgiving dinner changed. The families became larger,
and my great-grandmother at age 88 had to give up her role as the entertainer.
My childhood memories have mashed together into a melting pot, filled with
special anecdotes, along with a true understanding of family.
So, I ask you, whom do you sit down and have dinner with at the end
of the day, share a cup of hot chocolate with in the winter, or eat watermelon
with at the beach? Whatever person comes to mind qualifies as a family member.
The individuals who share the high points and low points in one's life constitute
a type of family, from a five-month bonding period as foreign exchange students,
to a support group, to the camaraderie that develops between a coach and
In the late 20th century, the definition of family varies from one individual
to another. Whenever I feel scared or confused, I drive home, and my house
will always be a security blanket for me. For someone else, eating cookies
with a life-long friend may be their solace within their everyday routine.
Every year, when cornucopias and turkeys are displayed in the windows
of craft stores, I am filled with nostalgia. When I close my eyes, I still
envision the warmth and happiness that I felt as a child, standing by the
large table on Thanksgiving Day.
Although time keeps moving forward, I cannot forget my great-grandmother's
tradition. I excitedly prepare for the holiday, and, without fail, the day
of Thanksgiving proves to be a rekindling of family relations and an invitation
to new individuals who will walk through our front door and "become
part of our family."
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