We are coming to a magical time of the year now, a time of holiday songs, gifts, and the gathering up of relatives. It is also a time I like to remember those holidays of the past.

I get a warm glow when I think about the holidays I had as a kid. They were a special time when grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many of my cousins, whom I may have not been in contact with since the last holiday season would come together at my grandparents' home to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas.

It was a time of noisy chatter and laughter as kids and grownups caught up with what had happened during the gap of time since we last met. It was a time for the men to gather around the vehicles parked in front of the house, and discuss the attributes, and problems of each one. This may seem sexist in today's world, but the women would be talking recipes in grandma’s kitchen as they cooked the feast we would all be enjoying later.

As for us kids, we would be trying to impress each other with all of our accomplishments since we last met. If the weather was good the men would end up on the porch smoking, and talking politics until the meal was ready, then the porch was where us kids would bring our plates to eat since there was not enough room at the table for all of us. Before the food was served however we would all gather around the table for the blessing, which grandma usually gave.

I can remember standing there with my sister and all our cousins waiting impatiently to fill a plate with all the food spread out on the main table as well as several smaller tables in the room. My taste buds still remember the flavors of those dinners even after all these years. Grandma was a great cook, as were her daughters, and daughter-in-laws all of whom contributed to the holiday meal.

After the meal the men and boys would head back outside, while the women and girls stayed in the house to wash the dishes, and clean up the mess left after the meal. Today we men don’t get away with that, and I usually find an apron around my waist just like my wife has after everyone has left.

The great food is only part of the memories I have of those holiday dinners. When I close my eyes I can still see all of us around the table. Sis and I would usually stand behind mom and dad’s chairs as grandma prayed the blessing to remind us what the holiday really meant. I have faded pictures of those days, and I love to pull them out at this time of the year.

The truth however is I don’t really need the pictures, because the memories of those holidays pop up clear as the day they happened this time of the year. My wife Marlene and I carry on the tradition of family gatherings all year long, but those at this magical time somehow seem more special, and I hope my children and grandchildren will cherish the memories we are making now for as many years as I have those from my childhood.