Showing gratitude through the holidays while remembering and honoring our past loved ones.
It’s quite and the house is sleeping....my plan was to sleep in and then start this very emotional day. Instead, I woke early and my mind started the journey of memories and Thanksgivings past.
Thanksgiving was my sister’s favorite holiday. She would tell you it was the turkey and the stuffing, and "ohhh the mashed potatoes"....but it was more than that. It was the memories and family getting together each year.
My mom always did Thanksgiving when we were kids...we had anywhere from 10 to 20 (and sometimes more) at our table. It expanded from the dining room to the living room, and somewhere in the house there was always a kid table. She would start so early in the morning with a bird that would barely fit in the small oven we had. The counter would be a collection of casseroles, vegetables, pies, and desserts. While mom cooked there was a constant dishwashing station...always trying to keep up with the bowls and trays, pots and pans. I remember that kitchen in the blue house was so small....and yet my mom made the best dinner and created the best memories. We would all eat ourselves into a small...or large food coma and begin the process of napping, watching football, and playing board games.
As I got older and moved out of the house...Thanksgiving changed from just my mom’s house. It was shared between my in laws, my moms, and now my home. Depending on the year and everyone's schedules....we would decide on a plan and then travel or stay home, but in the last 8 years we have spent many Thanksgivings at my house. Having kids that now have there own schedules changes everything. Sometimes we just couldn't go very far because practice of some kind is always on the following Friday :). Don't get me wrong....I loved staying home and carrying on the tradition of cooking the bird and feeding the family....and the last few years my sister was here to help.
Now, most of you know that my sister was a chef. She made amazing food, but what most people don't know is she hated cooking at Thanksgiving. So I was in charge and gave her tasks that she didn't mind as much doing. I often thought that even a chef likes to have someone cook for her once in a while....and I gladly obliged.
She would always "be bop-in" around 10 am...with wine, a newspaper, her big bag of goodies and a huge smile. It was Thanksgiving morning and nothing was better than this......
She would eat an orange roll (one of her favorite things) with a cup of coffee and go over the list of food that we were making for the day. She always made the antipasto platter and the mashed potatoes, those were hers to make, and she would start with roasting garlic in the oven. Meanwhile, I would start on the turkey...and together we would put the bird in the bag, stuffed with onions, celery, and oranges, covered in butter, oil, and herbs, and then proceed to something else......
(many sighs....and tears)
I can't tell you how much I am going to miss that this year....today is just another reminder of what is lost and will never be again. Today I must start a new set of Thanksgivings....memories without my kitchen partner, my sister, my friend. This morning my kitchen is quite and right now a lonely place...I did a lot of cooking yesterday with my girls, just in case I couldn't do it today...but it is my oldest daughter’s senior year and the last time that we will do Thanksgiving with her living here. So....I must continue on......I know I must help my children begin new traditions and memories without her. So here I sit pouring out my feelings, and tears to you, with a sleeping house, and a cup of coffee. My bird is prepared and ready to go....(I did it last night)...orange rolls made and ready to be eaten...(also did last night) and now I ponder how to start the day....being thankful when all I really want to do it cry and feel sorry for myself.
Of course....she is probably sitting across the table from me right now, telling me to put that garlic in so it has time to roast, and don't forget to make the pecan pie (also a major favorite of hers).... and reminding me that I have three beautiful reasons to be thankful upstairs sleeping quietly in their beds....
So I am going now...to do those things that I just know she is telling me to do.... to pull out those orange rolls and hot chocolate.. to begin preparing the food for cooking later, to turn on the parade and stop crying. She always hated it when I cried. She told me once that everything was ok until I starting crying because when I was crying she knew it was bad.
Like I have written in the past..." firsts"are the hardest, and this "first Thanksgiving" without her won't be easy...but I know it must be done...and to be honest... It's here even if I don't want it to be.
We miss you my sweet sister...and I am trying to be thankful for the time we did have.....and don't worry...I found a new pie crust recipe!!