Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday's Poetry: "Thanksgiving Day"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

It's been more than a quarter of a century since my young family left our home in Mountain View, MO, and moved back to Noel, MO. A major reason for that relocation was the sudden health care crisis that beset my mother, and thus all of us. It was about that time that she was diagnosed with brain tumors, and we realized, sadly, that her days were numbered.

We rented our first home after the move at the base of the hill that my parents basically owned, and they resided in a nice home on the crest of the hill. It would be in that home where my mother would breathe her last a couple of years down the road. One of the first things that I did after getting settled in was to take my new boom box up the hill, complete with a fresh cassette tape, so that Mom and I could have a long discussion about family history.

Fortunately, I was really into genealogy at that time and was inspired to record as much history as possible. Unfortunately, of the several copies that I made of that tape, all have disappeared. I gave copies to most, if not all, of her siblings as well as my dad and sister after Mom's death. I am certain that my copy is somewhere in the 5.600 square feet of my dad's house - every room of which is stacked to the rafters with crap - some of it mine!

But until one of the copies turns up, I am forced to rely on memory.

One of the stories that Mom told on that tape was of her mother and father taking all of the kids through the woods to her paternal grandmother's house on Christmas Eve. They made the trip in a horse-drawn wagon. She even told me the horse's names - I believe one was Dolly, and I can't remember what the other was called. Mom said that they had so much fun on the trip over, and she and her six brothers and sisters would sing "Over the river and through the wood, to Grandmother's house we go!" And she laughed and got tears in her eyes as she sang those words again, so many years later - long after the passing of her grandmother, parents, and two of her brothers.

I was familiar with the words, at least those few that Mom could remember, but I had no idea that it wasn't a Christmas carol or poem, but rather a light verse to celebrate family gatherings at Thanksgiving. The author, L. Maria Child, was famous for being a strident abolitionist, and she also authored several novels in the 19th century.

Here for your holiday reading pleasure is "Thanksgiving Day" by L. Maria Child. May we reach a point in life where our peace is not dependent on someone else's suffering, and everyone can experience the joy of spending their holidays with family.

Thanksgiving Day

Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood--
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
To have first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barn-yard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow--
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood--
Now grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!

(This blog post is lovingly dedicated to my uncle, Floyd Edgar Sreaves, Mom's only surviving sibling and the last remaining rider from that wagon that made the annual wintry trek over the river and through the wood to Grandmother Sreaves' house!)


Tim Macy said...

Where is Floyd these days, do you know?

Mike Box said...

Thanks, I've been trying to recollect these verses as I walk Bryce through town; he in his stroller and I apparently mumbling behind.