by Julie Cook Davis, President, Chattanooga State Alumni Association
By the time you read this, my favorite holiday will have come and gone; Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong, I love Valentine’s Day simply because it is all things pink for a month. But, Thanksgiving is the one. It’s the one I look forward to all year. I make lists of lists I need to make. I write the menu and rewrite the menu about six times, and we always end up having the same menu …. every year. The meal grows a little bigger some years as we slowly add new family members with their favorite requests. It also gets smaller as loved ones pass and their requests are no longer submitted. The meal is amazing, of course. But, the one day of grocery shopping, one day of house cleaning and decorating, two days of cooking and one spectacular day of Thanksgiving is what makes it my favorite holiday.
The preparation and the anticipation are, to me, the very best parts. In fact, by the time it’s time to sit and eat, I don’t care much about the meal. I watch my sweet family pass the dishes that began as a list on my computer weeks before then. I think about the fun I had getting my turkey ready the night before, then waking up early to put it in the oven.
I think about the first time I cooked fresh cranberries when Shelby and I stood there, with them about nose-level to her at the time, and wait for them to burst and pop open like popcorn. We laughed every time we heard one. How is it so many memories can come from one table full of food? Easy. Good memories come from good moments.
This year was the first year we did not sit around my grandmother’s table for Thanksgiving. It has been in our family since I was a child, used by my older cousin first after Nanny’s passing, then me for many years, and now is being used by Shelby and her family in her new home. I have a new table in a new house with new chairs and even new dishes as well. Some may think it made Thanksgiving different; like I had let a member of the family go … maybe I did. But, the rest of my family was there; making new memories, having good moments, loving each other. Our table didn’t matter, the roof over our head didn’t matter, even the new pretty dishes didn’t matter. It was us … eating, laughing, living, remembering, looking forward. All the things we’ve been taught by earlier generations. All the things we hope we are passing to our children.
As Alumni, we need to pass these same sorts of traits on to our current students. We need them to know how much we enjoyed our time around the table at ChattState. They need to know we had good moments and laughter; as well as hard times and the tears. We are their earlier generation in education. They need us to instill in them the things we have gleaned from our families before us. The tables on campus may be different now. Some of the equipment may be new and shiny, but the lessons are still the same. The students still need the same things we did. If you had a mentor in school you were fortunate, if you did not, you have an opportunity to make sure that same thing doesn’t happen to another young person. Get involved. Be part of the family. Make sure this next generation “gets it.”
Top photo: Julie Cook Davis (fourth from the left) is pictured with her family on Thanksgiving Day; center photo of Julie’s table full of food for Thanksgiving meal.