20 Nov Does your Thanksgiving table look different this year?
Are some of your children not there? Perhaps this is the in-laws’ year? Or the boyfriend’s? Or maybe they have to work on Friday and can’t travel? Are your parents missing? Getting too old or not well enough to travel on the busiest holiday of the year?
Are you alone? Are there strangers or stragglers at the table…or just crazy drunk people you have never met? (A story for another time.) Are you at home or at a brand new table that seems unfamiliar and awkward? Are you cooking — or is it just easier to order it on-line and pick it up? (Yeah…dry turkey is dry turkey.)
One of the treasured things of my life (that made “pack” pile for the move to Chicago) is a tattered photograph that has been taped on every refrigerator, wherever I’ve been, since my mom died three years ago. It is a picture of my mom baking pies with my three young daughters. I have vivid memories of them standing on stools with matching tights and turtlenecks in my mom’s kitchen. I took their dresses off to spare the mess. They rolled the dough and had more fun covering the kitchen (and themselves) with flour than baking the pies!
God love my mom—the original Auntie Mame—she was the ring-leader—the life of the party— she never cared about the mess or the chaos. She was too busy loving the moment to even notice. My mom was in heaven—granddaughters at her feet. In fact, Thanksgiving was her most beloved holiday.
Even when she was so sick and dropped the turkey on the kitchen floor (it slipped off the cutting board—did she serve it? Study says 75% would) she always rallied for that Thursday in November. Stragglers and family were treated alike. Everyone felt like they were home.
The table was perfection— the food actually varied depending on the year. (Remember Thanksgivukkah?) She always had to try a new recipe! Pumpkin this or that… I say, stick with what you know!!
Traditions are born out of doing the same thing year after year; nostalgia out of longing for those traditions, especially as time, circumstances and just life itself changes. Pondering life less than a week before the big day…I am reminded of Thanksgivings gone by—matching hair bows and itchy smocked dresses— black patent party shoes that were immediately discarded at the door. (So adorable but they never really fit!)
Yes—this Thanksgiving everything seems out of focus. I now live in an apartment in Chicago— deep roots have been uprooted. Four children live in four different states working on planting their own seeds…their own new beginnings. I am thankful that at least for one more year we will all be together.
Indeed this is the greatest blessing. We are meeting back in Cincinnati. It still remains our home base—but I am certain our hearts are somewhat elsewhere. Growing old and growing up is so damn hard.
The holidays remain the marker of time…both past and present. Happiness for fond memories and still creating new ones. Sadness at changes and loss.
Yes—our table is not the same this year—-maybe yours looks different too. But this year, I am forever grateful for the gifts right in front of me. No matter how many chairs are missing at your table —please find gratitude for this moment and for those who are with you…cherish the memories of years past.
Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving.