Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It has always been about family for us. My extended family is small and widespread but as a child the excitement would build over the weeks before the holiday arrived. Family gathered at Fort Pelham Farm for food and all of the festivities of the season. My aunts, uncles and grandparents on both sides would arrive one after another in the days before Thursday, our 3 cousins as well. There was laughter, food, more laughter. My mother loved this holiday and having her siblings with us.
We would rise early on Thanksgiving day to the smell of Bell’s Seasoning, onions and butter. My mother had risen at her usual ungodly hour and had everything well in hand. My aunt would always bring dates stuffed with walnuts and rolled in sugar. I remember there being a lot of nuts consumed on that day (the only other time we had them was at Christmas or when visiting my mother’s father). We would consume savory and sweet with the Macy’s parade in the background.
An hour or so before dinner was served everyone changed into their Sunday best. It was the one meal a year when we “dressed for dinner”. It seems a little odd to me now but I’m glad we did it.
It is all so long ago and far away now. Most of those players are gone but having had those gatherings every year of my childhood really instilled in me the importance of giving thanks for family and friends. I try to be thankful every day but this day focuses on it.
This year we are having the smallest gathering I can remember. It will be my two daughters, one boyfriend, Bill and I. It seems to be a pattern with many of our friends and family – I think for us it’s about being home. We have given up the long distance travelling. Not so much for getting there but the long ride home.
The bird is in the oven, I started my day with Bell’s Seasoning, onions and butter. There are vegetables to be cooked, gravy to be made. The sticky buns are ready to be warmed. Our meals are always the same, they have been for me for well over 50 years. I asked the girls what they absolutely had to have for dinner and am making everything we always have for 5 people. It wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving without the same things we have every year. There will just be a lot of leftovers – never a bad thing.
Today I am thankful that we have good, local food available to us – some grown right here. I am thankful I will be spending the weekend with 2 of my children who I see less than I’d like to. I’m thankful that we are in a huge old house with a cranking woodstove. I’m thankful for the quiet, the snow and the birds that are gracing my feeder.
I am most thankful for the people in my life. I’m thankful I have a new piece of my family returned. I’m so thankful (and miss terribly) the people that are now gone – they made me who I am and made my life richer.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends that read this blog regularly. Surround yourself with the people that are the most important to you, breathe it in, make it part of that collective memory that sustains you.