Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mr. Gordon (Thanksgiving Holiday)

I LOVE Thursdays because of our weekly writing class, you all know that… but ok, I’ll admit it, there is one more reason why I like Thursdays. NBC’s Thursday lineup. (If you are reading this outside of the U.S.: NBC is this big TV network here and for whatever reason they have started putting all these comedies back to back in one night. “Comedy Night Done Right” is their latest slogan… and oh yeah they’re doing it right!) Anyway, the reason why I mentioned all that is, in the past couple weeks, every sitcom is doing holiday episodes with a twist – basically no one ever depicts a peaceful holiday, because mishaps make better comedy. So all we get are dysfunctional families and groups of friends saying, Hey we’re dysfunctional but everything is all good and dandy because we all love one another. I mean, that’s trendy. And it’s really funny. And so, in a counter-intuitive kind of way, how unusual, and how refreshing it is to hear a peaceful story about a six-generation family all getting along during the holidays?

(Yup: SIX generations!!)

Arlin Gordon
Thanksgiving Holiday

I went to the great states of North Carolina and Georgia for a family reunion, during the Thanksgiving holiday. We had family coming from all over – even Florida and St. Louis. Our family was gathering to give unity to the family and keep us all connected.

I met my great-great-great nephew, who was 6 months old. At this family reunion, we had six generations of family coming together, for the first time! As usual, we all gathered in the kitchen. The greatest love always gathers in the kitchen!

I am the oldest uncle in the family, still living. As I sat there in the kitchen, my niece came up to me and asked, “Uncle, tell us about our great-great grandparents!” I replied, “Are you sure you want to know about them?” Then I asked “Why are you asking me?” She replied “Because you grew up with them.” So, I began to share with the family the history of their great-great grandparents. They came from Durham, North Carolina and had a lot of wisdom and very educated. Great-great grandmother always baked our bread and I didn’t even know that you could buy bread in stores. She worked for Dr. Kuchner, a mid-wife, who delivered babies. She would travel with the doctor and learned everything from him. I wound up working for the same doctor, cleaning his offices and would also ride with him at night, going to the houses. We both learned a lot from the doctor.

Great-great grandfather woke up early every morning. He got up at 4 am to work on the railroad, as a track layer. He had oatmeal for breakfast and rice for dinner every day. He would check our homework every day. He was 102 years old when he passed and I was so surprised to learn that he could not read. I remember, after checking our homework, he would say to me “This doesn’t look right and it’s not neat. Go back and do it again.”  And upstairs I would go to do it all over again! I learned a lot from him. He would say that, as Negros, men had a responsibility to our race, to raise our families in a godly manner. He was not a religious person but he respected God.

Holiday time was always the children’s time of the year, at our home. Adults had to wait until the children finished the meal before they could eat. We would all listen to the radio programs, The Lone Ranger and The Shadow since there was no TV.

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday talking to family about their great-great grandparents and was totally amazed when they asked to hear about them. I found some pictures to share and we all agreed to get together once a year to talk about family history.