As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I am flooded with memories of times past. I know that's typical, but this year it’s especially poignant as last Thanksgiving was the last one we had with my brother.
I used to think I hated Thanksgiving dinner. Each and every year I would end up physically ill by 11 PM. The thought of the turkey alone would cause a stomach ache. But as I grew up I learned the real reason behind my dislike of the meal: my grandmother (rest her soul) Could. Not. Cook. #persepective!
But I do fondly remember the day or days leading up to the big holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas were often spent with her, as we were her only grandchildren. The memories blend as to which holiday we were celebrating. I remember my Gram singing around the kitchen and the house – Patsy Cline was a big favorite. She would dance around the counter and into the dining room setting out plates of olives, dates, mini cheesecakes. My brother and I would be put to work, sent to store some dishes in the entryway. This “room” between the outside door and inside door wasn’t insulated, so in Baldwinville, MA at that time of year it would stay relatively cold. Key word there being relatively... now that I have a better understanding of food safety guidelines, I know this space was nowhere near cold enough to safely store perishables.
Each year, my grandmother took the family on a culinary adventure which involved the cooking of the turkey. We have tried turkey every which way you can imagine. One very memorable year she heard about cooking the turkey in a bag. I will never forget when my dad opened that bag and the turkey went from looking like a turkey to one sloshy pile of mush in 1 second flat, literally. I am not exaggerating when I say my dad broke the seal and the entire contents of the bag imploded, bones and all, leaving being a soup of cartilage, skin and mushy meat. Needless to say, pretty unappetizing.
The year my grandmother wanted to “par cook” the turkey was the year my mom drew the line. Thing was, my grandmother would never let us do the cooking. So my dad came up a plan. We would tell her a local company donated the turkey to us because we ordered so many for the store (our family-owned general store), and it would already be cooked when we got it. I honestly can’t remember how my parents pulled off the logistics of driving 3.5 hours with a cooked turkey, but somehow we did. From then on my father was in charge of the turkey and now, it’s a favorite meal of mine.
This year my family will gather together like we always have. We will be missing not only my grandmother, (my father’s mother), but for the first year, my brother. This is a huge hole in my family unit and it will make for a difficult day for all of us. I will get up in the morning and go for a run, a tradition of mine. My mother, father, sister, sister-in-law, my niece, my children and my husband and maybe some of the aunts and uncles will go around the table and say some version of what we are grateful for. Last year mom asked us to say what we are grateful for about ourselves. I said that I am good at compartmentalizing. I’m finding that ironic, since this year I will have to do that to get through.
I am so #grateful for so much. My family. My health. My beautiful life. I have some of the best clients in the world. My friends are like family to me. I wake up every single day grateful and looking forward to the life I get to live. I hope you will use your holiday to do the same. Put away, not just down, your phones – and be present for each of the people you get to spend time with. Go for a walk together. Chat about your memories and share your dreams. Live in the now and love openly and freely. Most of all, be so grateful for each and every person...and tell them so.