Friday, November 15, 2013

Memories of Thanksgiving

Good morning....and what a cold morning it is here in Maryland. Just a few weeks ago, I was sitting outside on my deck, having coffee in short sleeves and barefoot. Now, as I sit here looking out my window at the frost still clinging to my window panes, I am getting out a pen and paper right now so that I can add my electric portable heater, my pink furry bunny slippers and my pink chenille robe to my list of "Things To Be Thankful For This Year!"

Only 14 days left until my favorite holiday. I read over some of your menus yesterday on the good morning post and some are quite ambitious. Many of you will make the old fashioned traditional Thanksgiving goodies, while others will experiment with new recipes that change things up a little. I like to do both. This weekend I will be doing a trial run with a couple of new dishes I haven't made before, just to make sure they turn out perfectly for the big day. But for the most part I will stick with tradition and put out the same wonderful foods I remember as a kid.

My Mom would really put out a spread every Thanksgiving. What a joyous time with friends and family gathered all around. She was the star that day and all those oooohhs and aaaahhs would just make her light up when people would take that first bite of her wonderful home cooking. She loved Thanksgiving and she planned every single detail out perfectly. I can still remember her basting that gigantic 30 pound turkey that she pushed in the oven hours before the rest of us even got out of bed that morning. And the focal point of that dinner was always her homemade dressing that she would make in a big gray baking pan wrapped tight in aluminum foil, and every single person at that table couldn't wait to taste it, as it was passed around the table each year. She was truly in her element and she just loved cooking for so many at one time.

It really was a wonderful occasion when all of us gathered around her on that day. So much laughter and so much love surrounded her. And in later years, when she just didn't have the energy to host those big Thanksgiving feasts anymore, I carried on in her place and did my best to put out all the wonderful dishes she taught me how to make. She would feel so proud when people around that table would take a bite and say, "oh my, you cook just like your Mom" She loved that I had learned so much from her over the years.

Times have changed now. There are no big gatherings anymore. Divorces and funerals changed the guest list dramatically. Kids grew up and had families of their own now and celebrate their own Thanksgivings. People moved away for jobs in other states. Time really took it's toll on our family gatherings.

After my Mom moved to Heaven, it was all I could do to hold the family together. People just went their separate ways. So now it's a small gathering with only my Dad and my brother and my best friend Randy and of course me and my immediate family, Katie and Cooper, my two dogs, and Squeak, my outdoor cat.

The crowd is small and the turkey is not 30 pounds anymore. There are no huge bowls and platters of all "the fixins," as my Mom would say. It is not loud with laughter and different conversations all going on at the same time. It is not and will never be the same as I remember. It is a little more reserved as we quietly roll those memories around in our head of days gone by. There is an overall sadness as my Dad says our Thanksgiving prayer and breaks down and cries when he thanks God for those days with my Mom. And we all hold hands and cry with him as we honor her memory and give thanks for what we have.

This is my family and the room is filled with love and laughter and good food. We have fun and are fully aware of how precious time can be and we cherish every single moment. We play games and talk about the new topics of the day as we pass around the mashed potatoes and gravy and all our favorite dishes. And somewhere during that course of time, someone will say it....and I wait for it every year...."oh my gosh, you cook just like your Mom." And life is good and I know she would be proud that her family has gathered to share this new Thanksgiving day.
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