Reflections on Thanksgiving


This week on The Times-Gazette’s website and Facebook page, we asked our readers to share some of their favorite Thanksgiving memories with us, or to tell us in a couple paragraphs or so what they are most thankful for this holiday season. In addition to sharing all the stories with the Facebook community, our plan is to pick some of our most favorite responses and publish them in our Thanksgiving print edition next week.

I hope some of you will take the time to share with us your favorite memories of spending time with family and friends on a special day of thanksgiving.

As for myself, the Thanksgivings spent with my wife and children have a special place in my book of memories. So, too, do the ones from when I was young, especially a couple of them. Sometimes when I think of Thanksgiving the first memories that come to mind are from when I was little boy, and my family would head to Lynchburg to celebrate the holiday at my Grandpa Clovis and Grandma Frances Hopkins’ house.

They had a big house, and it was always fun for us kids to roam around it and see what kind of fun we could find. It has been too many years to remember a lot, but I recall my cousins and I from time to time being told to stay out of this large closet to which we seemed especially attracted. There were four us boys, all within 18 months in age of each other, and it was, I believe, a linen closet with especially deep shelves — more than deep enough for little boys to hide on each one.

And there were football games. It probably only happened a few times or less, but I specifically remember playing football in the side yard of my grandparents’ home on Thanksgiving, and often when I think back, that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

In the years that followed, the Hopkins Thanksgivings moved to an uncle’s home in the Cincinnati area. I remember two of them really well.

One Thanksgivng day, the four of us boys were playing football in the backyard. We had laid out the boundaries, but there was what seemed, to me, to be an especially large weed in the way. So I pulled it out of the ground and tossed it aside. Unbeknownst to me, the weed was in the next door neighbor’s yard. And what I thought was a weed was actually a new tree the neighbor had planted shortly before. That made things rather interesting for a while. I did not get in a lot of trouble, but it was enough to make me remember it to this day.

A couple years later, when the Hopkins Thanksgiving was being held at the same Cincinnati-area location, I had come of driving age, and one of my brothers and I decided that we should be allowed to drive to the feast by ourselves. Reluctantly, my parents agreed.

My brother and I were a bit ornery in those days, and since for some reason we did not follow my parents, I am certain they were anxiously awaiting our arrival. Only, we never made it. We got lost and could not find our way. I’m also relatively certain that my parents figured we were up to no good, but at least on this occasion, we were not. There were no cell phones in those days, and I don’t know if we had a phone number to call. But after getting turned around enough times on the unfamiliar interstate to put a little fear in ourselves, and finally finding a recognizable route heading back to Hillsboro, we made the decision to take that way.

I do not remember the consequences of that decision, but I am completely certain that we did not get off so easy on that one.

The thing is, of all the times we somehow did not get in trouble when we should have, that particular time we got in trouble when we were completely innocent. At least, that’s how I remember it.

As the years passed, and my cousins and I started having kids, the Hopkins clan grew too large, there were other family commitments with our spouses’ families, and the Hopkins Thanksgivings faded away.

But I am thankful to have experienced it all.

I am thankful for many things this Thanksgiving season, and I could start a list, but it would probably bore you. Above all, I am thankful for the health and happiness of my family, and the fact that this Saturday, I will sit down to dinner with my wife’s family for Thanksgiving, then on Thanksgiving Day I will sit down for another dinner with my parents.

All around the globe, there are members of our military who will not be able sit down with their families this Thanksgiving. I am especially thankful for all that they, and those who have gone before them, have done to let us live like Americans live.

Those are some of my stories. I hope you share some of yours with us.

Most of all, from all of us here at The Times-Gazette, we hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at or 937-402-2522.

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist Gilliland Staff columnist

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