Credit: George Danby / BDN

The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York.

This will be the first time in my life of 71 years that I’ve not been with my family and friends during the holidays. This is a good thing. We have to be vigilant in order to defeat this virus and save our neighbors’ families. This is also a good time to remember what life was and will be.

My memory of some of my first Thanksgiving holidays had all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents come over to our house for what we all called “turkey day.” The women used to come over early in the morning to help my mother and my sisters with the cooking and getting the large dining room table ready for the feast that was sure to come. I’m not being sexist here because I am only remembering what my past was.

The dining room table was not the only one readied. There was also an old card table my parents stored in the basement only to be taken out during this time of year and set up in the kitchen so it could be viewed and controlled by the people who would sit at the larger table in the dining room.

This table was for the children of the family who were not quite old enough to sit at the main table. We were given the same food and when I, and the rest of my family, was young we used to enjoy this separation because we could have our own conversation and an ample supply of soda and dessert.

The older we got the more we started to dislike our allocation to the “children’s table.” We were relegated to this part of the festivities until we started our teenage years. Sometimes we had to stay for a longer period of time because there was not enough room to join our more adult family at the main table. Soon the day arrived when we were asked to join the adults. This was both a sad and happy time for me because it was a sign I was growing up and it was also a symbol I could not eat as much dessert as I wanted.

Years passed and more of my cousins and nephews started to join the main table with new arrivals filling our spots. Another thing I noticed was that the older people of my family started to vacate their spots at the table. It was said they were just a bit too old or sick to join us on that particular Thanksgiving. Soon after it was said that they passed away to a place that was called better. I always felt sadness because I would miss their stories about the life they led.

More years passed and I noticed more people started to leave the festivities. They did not leave because of a sickness or death; they left because they found a wife or a husband and decided to have their own Thanksgiving banquet at their new home or at the home of their new families.

I soon left with my new wife and joined her family for the Thanksgiving holiday. My new family had similar traditions. There was a large table set up for the older members and a smaller table in the kitchen for the children. The children’s table was always full and because I had taken up another seat at the large table a young teenager was returned to join his younger siblings.

Time passed and I observed the evolution of the years that took place at the holiday table. Where for years the older grandparents sat and were listened to with interest and admiration they simply started to disappear with new family members taking their place.

This was my year to find myself sitting very near the head of the table. My older brother-in-laws and wives now hold the right to be where they have people listening to their stories and fables about the life they had lived. The children’s table is filled with young boys and girls who came from people whom I grew up with and who accepted me into their family.

I guess I am now close to having my seat evolve to the end of both the Thanksgiving table and in reality to my own life’s position. Of course, I will have to wait for next year. I will be the focal point with my stories of how I survived to become as old as I am. I can’t say I am looking forward to that time but I can say I am thankful I have stories to tell and family members who want to hear them.