This year our group has gotten smaller.
There will only be four of us. Norm, my son and his girl friend, and of course, me. Other children for one reason or another will not be able to make it, and my mother is now in a nursing home with Tom, her long time friend.
It is odd not to have my mother here this year.
Thanksgivings over the years have varied in size and place. There have been small ones with just me and my parents, and large ones where no matter how you’ve tried, some kind of food would wind up cold by the time it got to you.
The day would start with the TV broadcasting the Thanksgiving Day Parade while the turkey was cleaned and prepared for the oven. There was the familiar clatter of pans in the background and that cozy feeling a warming oven and food preparation brings.
Of course there was also the decking out of the dining room: the table linens, china, serving dishes, and silverware. My mother would manage some fresh cut flowers and my dad would seek a wine from the basement. No, we did not have a wine cellar. Our kitchen was small, so, the wine literally got stored down there for lack of room.
In my early Thanksgivings, my parents had the kind of gas stove you had to light with a match. It became finicky years later which became disaster on one Thanksgiving. The turkey seemed to take all day to cook. Dinner was later than usual, the vegetables over cooked, and my dad with the pained realization that he and my mother needed to purchase a new stove. They only had the thing for over 25 years. Dad thought it should have lasted longer like the clutch in his 71 Ford Galaxy.
As our family grew my mother found it hard to cook in quantities. There was only five of us dividing up what was meant for three. My dad finally started to do the math in the kitchen to help save face for my mother.
I finally took on the task of having Thanksgiving. My first Thanksgiving I had my parents, my in-laws including my ex-husband’s sister and brother and their families. All the children which numbered four were age five and under. My Ex was of little help, and I soon took up drinking wine with my father in the kitchen to keep a calm perspective. After all didn’t the Galloping Gourmet drink while cooking on TV? Years later they discovered he was an alcoholic. But I could get a perspective on why he drank.
To my relief, my in-laws took up the task of Thanksgiving for several years. They were football enthusiasts. Tray tables would surround the tube and conversation if any would revolve around sports. There was usually tension in that someone was not talking to someone or telling someone to “bite me or f— off!”. I use to think of them as a sitcom like the Honeymooners with Ralph shouting “to the moon, Alice! To the moon!” They were a tense group to say the least.
When I remarried, Thanksgiving returned to its sanity. It grew into a more reflective and spiritual time. It is like a Sunday in many ways. I got to slow down. Think. Savor good memories and the company of those I love. Norm helps with the cooking and cleaning to a point I feel spoiled. Even when my mother would try to help with bringing over a half cooked pumpkin pie, we would know to have a backup pie just incase. I can enjoy my family’s company and be thankful for all the blessings they have brought me.
I miss my dad and his stories. I miss my mom and her apple pies. I miss my grandmother with her laugh and even my grandfather who told me to take my elbows off the table. But I carry them in my heart this Thanksgiving as always, and give thanks for the love and blessings they gave to me.
I guess that is what Thanksgiving has taught me over all those years; to be thankful of the many blessings I have.