Autumn table setting with pumpkins. Thanksgiving dinner and fall decoration.

For most of us, Thanksgiving means a day of celebration – a day of enjoying gastric pleasures in a relaxed environment with family and friends.

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner normally includes a turkey with stuffing and gravy, homemade cranberry sauce concocted from a secret family recipe, assorted potato dishes, a medley of vegetables and for dessert – a slice of the mandatory pumpkin pie â la mode.

But, before the celebration can begin, a Thanksgiving prayer is required – a prayer of gratitude for blessings received, but also a prayer in remembrance for absent loved ones. And then, with this task fully discharged, we can indulge ourselves without remorse.

Plates are piled high with a selection of all the delicious offerings before us. Stories are told, toasts offered, and casual exchanges yield uninhibited laughter. All are comfortable and secure.

It is a good tradition.

And, for anyone who follows this tradition, the feast isn’t over when one pushes oneself away from the table. It only concludes with the host and hostess laboriously processing all the leftovers into take-home containers and then doling them out to their guests over their polite objections.

I am grateful for leftovers.

Do you ever notice how an excellent meal only seems to taste better when you prepare it a second or even a third time? Turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings can be savored yet again.

The same is true of memories – memories of times passed. They can also be savored yet again.

I remember past holiday celebrations and the many tables where I sat. I remember my mother’s dinner table packed with those same dishes and delicacies. And, most of all, I remember those dining table chairs filled over the years with family and friends.

I remember … the time when Sooty the dog snatched a drumstick from a turkey platter; the time when Dan and Laura announced their engagement; the time when Uncle Harry wept for his lost wife, the time when …

All are there.

As these thoughts flood into my mind, I realize that not one of those precious moments is really lost; every moment still resides within us only waiting to be brought forth. They are not moments of subtraction but of addition; they can be added to the whole of each of us.

Edmund Spenser once wrote, “For whatsoever from one place doth fall, is with the tide unto an other brought: For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.”

The poet had it right. There is nothing that is gone forever -- not if we seek it with our hearts. The past mingles with the now and adds to the joy of our present lives. We live our lives for the times that ever were, for the times that are, and for the times that yet may be.   

I look forward to savoring this year’s Thanksgiving feast with its leftover delights. I also look forward to savoring past memories and creating new ones that will continue to be savored for many years to come. 

I wish the same for you.

Bon appétit.

___________________

Stops Along the Way is an occasional column from Orlean resident Don Bachmann. 

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