Dear ETK Family,
My brother would look at me and roll his eyes in a way that only brothers understand. Every Thanksgiving it was the same. My great-grandmother, Ada, invited us to her weather-worn two-story, pillared house for her holiday dinner. It was always an exciting visit because of the banistered staircase, the mysterious rooms and closets in which to play hide-n-seek, and the fragrance of hot orange cookies baking in the oven.
But eventually we ended up in her parlor where we received a present with the contrived “oh thanks, I really needed this” that our mother monitored with an insistent nod. How thankful can young boys be for a bottle of Jergens Lotion and a wash cloth? In my mom’s opinion, very thankful indeed! So, until I was thirteen years old I penned the same post-Thanksgiving note:
Dear Ada, Thank you so much for the lotion and the washcloth. I really needed them both. The cookies were really great, too. Love, Hal
Later, of course, the memory became a family treasure. My brother and I now know that the Jergen’s ritual was an act love rooted in Ada’s lifelong experience with economic hard times. Her simple gift helped us learn the value of family, tradition, and frugality—things that counted most in her life. The spiritual overtones, the laughter and love expressed, the experienc-ing of seasonal gaiety, and the intimacy of family membership became primary cornerstones of childhood. And after the summer she died, I remember as a teenager feeling a strange emptiness at Thanksgiving when there was no longer a gift from Ada.
Now I know that her gift transcended the ages; it never really ended. Some say it’s the thought that counts; Ada taught us it’s the relationship that counts.
So to all our ETK Family, enjoy the upcoming Thanksgiving season as well at the
Holiday season to follow. And don’t forget to write your thank you notes!!!