I guess today is as good a day as any to confess that once upon a time, I hated Thanksgiving.
I just didn't really see the point.
We would get up in the morning and turn on the parade, but I only watched for a short time.
The focus was on cooking.
All. Blessed. Day.
I remember feeling so bored, because there was nothing to do.
Not to mention, I used to be a super-picky eater.
Stuffing? No way.
Sweet potatoes. No thank you.
Pumpkin pie? Why would you ruin a pie by adding a vegetable?
I had always known a family holiday, and I didn't know to appreciate it.
Fast forward to my mid-20s.
Our first few Thanksgivings, Todd and I traveled back and forth to our mothers' homes and ate their wonderful meals, each with unique traditions. Homemade noodles cut by hand at the Garcia house, a tradition hailing my Pennsylvania roots. A wonderful creation Barbara called Applesauce Jello, bright-red and beautiful on the table.
And then things started to change. Todd's mom became ill with Alzheimer's Disease. Slowly, Barbara became a shell of her former self. And eventually, the hands that once served meals so graciously to others were not capable of carrying on the family traditions.
For a few years, Todd and I would meet his family at an expensive hotel buffet for holiday meals. All the requisite holiday foods were there---turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce---but things did not quite taste the same. My eyes missed the cross-stitched tablecloths and flowered china.. We were lost in a sea of strangers, brought together by a variety of circumstances that required us to gather away from our homes.
My appreciation of family and holiday tradition, in a sense, was born out of that loss.
And though we felt woefully inadequate to do so, Todd and I realized that it was time for us to try to host a holiday meal or two.
Those first few meals, they weren't perfect. There was the Christmas turkey on Whitestown Rd. that simply Would. Not. Cook. There was the stress of a too-small table with not enough chairs. But it was a beginning. And the holidays when we traveled to my parents', I watched my mother a little more closely and tried to absorb all the things that she innately did so well.
I really have the perfect setup now. My mom lives next door. We trade off hosting holiday meals, bringing side dishes and giving an extra helping hand when we are the guests. Todd's dad always offers to bring pies from Soergel's. Tim has learned how to make his mom's Applesauce Jello. Everyone helps out, even Juli and Micah.
* * * * * * *
#10...growing up in homes where tradition was important
#11...Micah, who asked if I would wake him up early so he could help with the turkey
#12...Juli, who loves to help make a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin
#13...Todd, who helps in any way he can
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, that you were able to celebrate with people who make a difference in your life. Hugs to my family members who are far away!