This week, some 397 years after the first Thanksgiving, we begin the busiest time of year.
Take time for yourself by going on a long walk on a sunny day through your favorite or nearby cemetery. Ponder the memories that you hold close, because many our family members are no longer with us. They sadly will not be at our thanksgiving table as in the past. This is a story about both my family and yours, where we remember Thanksgiving, that very important family celebration.
So many of our Mothers were and remain the glue holding family together. For my Mother, Evelyn Fleig, it was her big day to bring family, love, and way too much food together at the Thanksgiving table. This was her holiday. Food brings back our family memories. The taste, smell, and texture of food can bring back memories not just of eating food itself, but also of place and setting. At Thanksgiving, there is the gravy boat, the jello, the rolls, relishes, or a ham on a side table. And maybe that ever popular green bean casserole with crispy onions. And then the of course turkey! It always seemed Ma started the turkey almost the night before. Didn’t it seem as though the bird cooked for 24 hours?
And then there are the desserts!
When Evelyn died on Mother’s day 1988, all that changed. We buried her in Rosehill cemetery next to her husband Fred and my grandparents Nick and Gussie. Fred, Bill, Uncle Jack, Ann, and others will also be missed at the table.
Your Aunt Jean, Uncle Eddie, cousin John, and others may not be at your table as well. Although Thanksgiving will not feel complete with all our missing family members, we are now in charge of our own traditions. Bring your family traditions and food forward into this year’s holiday. Feel free to establish new traditions.
At the table on Thursday, first count your blessings, giving thanks for all what we have. For latte and laptops. For answered prayers and Amazon. For daughters and sons and chocolate covered strawberries and Google. For farmers and doctors, for smoke alarms that tell us the turkey is done, for carousels, churches and gift cards and jelly beans. Give thanks for a good harvest, hot buttered popcorn and teenagers that give us an opportunity to learn a second language. For good muskie fishing and warm sweatshirts and Oreo cookies and same day shipping , grandchildren and puppies, Siri and caregivers, for dawn after dark, healing after hurt. Give thanks for all those loved ones who have gone before us . Give thanks for the time we had with them.Then at the Thanksgiving table, share your memories and favorite family stories while you pass the rolls, the cranberries, the spaetzle or rollups.
For me, my mother’s coveted turkey dressing lives on. My daughter Linda, makes it every year at Thanksgiving from Evelyn’s original recipe. Linda, like my mother, will make way more than we can possibly eat, lots of leftovers to take home. Leftovers are a family tradition back to my grandparents, who without much money, always sent us home with two or more shopping bags of ‘leftovers”. Love really does last for days after.
And one more thing: Those photographs of the “that” Thanksgiving turkey are all fake news. It actually is a cleverly crafted Thanksgiving cake!
A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to all my readers and friends!