Thursday is Thanksgiving. It was also my mother’s birthday and is my friend Rhonda’s birthday as well as my friend Joy’s, so it is definitely a day of celebration and a day full of memories.
When I was a kid there would be 25 to 30 people gathered around our table for the holiday dinner. My mother would buy a 27 lb. turkey, which became the centerpiece of our feast, and I would spend the day basting the turkey for my mother. We all knew that I took the job so I could nibble on the stuffing before anyone else. My mother had pilgrim and turkey candles on the table every year that we never lit, and Thanksgiving napkins and other decorations. My sister threatened to pull them out last Thanksgiving as neither of us could ever throw them away. They represented our parents and happy funny times together as a family.
I think Thanksgiving was our favorite holiday at least for us kids. Growing up Jewish in the Midwest, this was a holiday everyone celebrated and so did we. At Christmas time no matter how my father decorated our house for Chanukah, all my girlfriends felt sorry for me that I didn’t get to have a Christmas tree and that Santa skipped over our house. So Thanksgiving was a big deal in our house and our family did it up big. Our holiday dinner was a feast and a tradition that has continued with us kids, now the adults. Of course we have added a few of our own favorite dishes, and my nephew is a great vegan chef so along with the turkey there is now tempe and lots of other wonderful cooked vegetables. My sister has added a macaroni and four cheese platter to the already carbohydrate fat heavy dinner and my specialty is a mashed yam dish with lots of butter, pure maple syrup, chopped pecans or walnuts, a hint of cinnamon and a hint of cayenne, and on at least half the casserole there has to be melted marsh-mellows for my one niece.
Unfortunately this year for the first time we will all be scattered among NYC, Ohio, and Oregon. Parts of our family will be together but this is the most physically scattered we have ever been. We will really be stretched out among the three states. Some of it is because new families have begun and there are other obligations, part of it is because of these economically challenged times. But as happy as we will all be, there will also be a sadness in not being together, not sharing our one big holiday together. I know it will be a good day, but there will be something missing, first off my parents. I have no doubt they will be looking down upon each of us hoping that we’ll save them some leftovers but most of all they’ll be happy knowing they created a family that loves each other. We’ll all be on the phone to each other probably multiple times, and that will be nice. It is not the same but this year it will have to do. I will miss them all especially my youngest niece and nephew Kaya and Sky. They are so funny!
Thanksgiving is a day to show our gratitude, to be grateful for all our blessings big and small and if we’re lucky there is food on our table, we are safe, and surrounded by loved ones. Just those three things are not small accomplishments, so I for one will express my thanks and gratitude for having in my life those important ingredients, and I wish to you all the same and a wonderful holiday weekend and a Happy Thanksgiving Thursday!