In the Suburbs / Our first Fairfield Thanksgiving was our most treasured
Of the 32 wonderful Thanksgivings we spent as Fairfield residents from 1982 to 2014, our first holiday was truly the most memorable for so many reasons. For me, those reasons capture what Thanksgiving is all about.
For instance, in June of that year, we had just moved to Fairfield from Reading, Pa., after living a “splintered” existence while my wife finished dental hygiene school. I had been with our daughters and worked in Reading while my wife attended school in Philadelphia and it was great to finally be back together in our new home in Fairfield.
Thankfully, my wife graduated and passed her dental hygiene boards, I had secured a new job in Connecticut earlier in year and we were all beginning to get comfortable again.
As Thanksgiving approached, we were still putting remaining boxes away and settling into our rental home on Green Knolls Lane near Black Rock Turnpike. It was a wonderful colonial and we were convinced we wanted to buy it. The house, unlike our duplex in Reading, was loaded with space and we were filling it quickly. We had every reason to believe that we’d be in Fairfield a long time and we were just thankful for each other.
Another reason why our first Fairfield Thanksgiving was special was that my parents drove out from Chicago for the holiday. Mom and dad loved to drive in any kind of weather and were delighted to make the trip and help welcome us to Fairfield. We truly appreciated their visit, because just being surrounded by family for Thanksgiving in this new environment made our first Fairfield Thanksgiving holiday so special.
Mom and dad always took us to breakfast at the old Pie Plate in the Stop & Shop circle during their visits, but for Thanksgiving they had the continental breakfast at the Motor Inn. There was no Circle Diner in those days.
On that 1982 Thanksgiving, I’ll never forget dad out on our leaf-covered front lawn with the girls, who were then 12 and 9, tossing around a soccer ball as they played with the leaves. The girls’ shrieks and laughter pierced the peace and quiet of our charming street.
Mom and my wife worked inside on the turkey and the rest of the dinner, and I set the table and took care of odds and ends. We set the table for six.
In those days we didn’t know from Weight Watchers, and my wife made sweet potatoes, a delicious stuffing, vegetables and a great turkey.
As we sat around the table chatting, we gave thanks that we were all together for this holiday and looked forward to many more to come. Fortunately, until 2010, we did spend so many Thanksgivings together with my folks.
For our 1982 Thanksgiving, my dad had just turned 62 and mom had just celebrated her 60th birthday (very quietly) three weeks before the holiday. They were filled with energy and dreams of retirement and shared so many plans for travel. Thankfully, their health was excellent and they were enriched by the many trips they took to Europe and the Middle East. And we all celebrated their milestone birthdays in Chicago or Florida.
As I reflected on all that has happened since that first Fairfield Thanksgiving, the tears came easily.
I remembered my dad, who passed about a year and a half ago at nearly 97, and my mom who died at 90 just a few weeks after Thanksgiving in 2012 (ironically, the day of the Newtown massacre). There was so much to be thankful for on that Thanksgiving in 1982.
Over the next 31 years, we often hosted many beautiful Thanksgiving feasts with family and our expanding circle of friends.
A few times, my brother and sister-in-law from Washington joined us and we, in turn, have battled the traffic to join them for the holiday. And this year, we’ll be with my wife’s family in Virginia so that our wonderful little grandson can play with his cousins.
Our other Thanksgiving celebrations have touched three houses, and as cholesterol and blood pressure provided wake up calls, my wife’s cooking has become much more health-oriented, but has remained delicious.
But that first Fairfield Thanksgiving really meant the most to us, because it helped us feel settled and so grateful to be in such a wonderful community. And while our first house didn’t turn out to be our last house, we loved the others just as much and looked forward to entertaining wherever we were.
And we are so grateful for our expanding family and especially our children and grandsons, Lucas and Abdiel, who are all thriving. Though we have moved slightly north now and love our new home, we will always consider Fairfield our home.
As this special holiday approaches, my wish for everyone is a holiday of good health, love of family and peace. Happy Thanksgiving!
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.