Thanksgiving Day is a day of togetherness and being thankful for what we have.

That tradition, as we all know, dates back to the colonization of the United States in the early 1600s when the colonists and Native Americans gathered for the first Thanksgiving.

More than 400 years later, the traditional feast still exists, consisting of turkey, yams, corn and has been complimented with many other foods to create a cornucopia of a feast. However, each ethnicity has their own traditions with their own foods.

But, the one common denominator is togetherness. There is a lot to be thankful for – family, friends, and jobs and, of course our freedoms.

I remember growing up in Pennsylvania as my family would get together on Thanksgiving for food and football. Just getting together for a day and reminiscing about days of yore and all the good things that have happened over the course of the year. There was also a period of reflection on the bad things that happened as well.

Traditions are created at those tables, and held close to the heart. As we get older, we tend to hold onto the memories and bonds created. Just talking about incidents and laughing, and sometimes crying tears or sadness or joy, and sharing events of our lives make those memories burn a little brighter.

I remember there were two Thanksgivings in my family. The traditional one, obviously, was always in November. My grandmother, whom I was very closed to and passed away in 2003, always made a Thanksgiving dinner in the summer.

My grandmother, who lived through the Great Depression, also went the whole nine yards, so to speak. She would cook a turkey and then add to it with corn, peas, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams and two kinds of gravy. She would always make pumpkin and cherry pies.

My Mom, Dad, sister and I would always go to her house for the mid-summer festivities. She always loved cooking that meal, and we always loved eating it.

The interesting aspect was the fact that she had a large family, of which Mom was the youngest child. A joke I made in my teens was when a few of my uncles always said Dad was her favorite, and I would quip, “Of course he is … he got the last child out of the house when he married Mom.”

My grandmother and mother laughed at that joke. But it was the bonds of family that were always strongest, and that is something I will always remember.

This holiday season is one of firsts for Mom and I. Dad passed in the summer, and my grandfather, my father’s father, passed on just a few days ago. I always enjoyed how he and my grandmother, my mother’s mother, always got along. Hearing them be courteous to one another and referring to each other as Mr. and Mrs. was one of the things that always made me smile.

Without Dad and now granddad, this will be the first Thanksgiving where Mom and I won’t be spending the day with them – as my grandfather always stopped by the house around lunchtime for the all-day-long feast my mother, father and I would prepare.

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful to have Mom and all the memories of family we have created over the years.

Those memories will never leave us.

Brent Addleman is managing editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. He can be reached by calling 325-641-3110, or email baddleman@brownwoodbulletin.com. Twitter: @BWD_Editor.