Turkey. Mashed potatoes with gravy. Corn. Pumpkin pie. Dinner rolls. Shrimp. Sausage and crackers. Sticky buns. This is a sampling of a traditional Thanksgiving Day at my family’s house. I say day instead of meal because it truly is an all day eating extravaganza. My Mom wakes up at some unimaginably early mom-hour to begin our annual feast. We start the day with sticky buns, followed shortly by shrimp, sausage, cheese and crackers. We find our respective spots in the living room and begin to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade. It is optional to have a light lunch consisting of more shrimp, sausage, cheese and crackers. Dinner begins around 4pm and we might have a late dinner of leftovers around 8. Over the years members of my family have taken on different responsibilities to help Mom prepare the food. Dad is in charge of the turkey and gravy. I help clean/defrost* the shrimp depending on how ambitious we are that year. My younger sister, Kate, helps with the rolls. Tom, the middle child is in charge of keeping the couch warm with updates on football games. We’ve had a pretty good rhythm going over the years, some years trying new recipes but always keeping it a full day feast.
This year, our plans have changed a bit. Mom will be spending this Thanksgiving in New York with my Grandparents and her sisters. My Grandmother has not been well for some time and while she is in the hospital, Mom will be spending the holidays with her Dad. We are all very happy that she will get to spend this time with her parents, but we will miss her very much at home.
This will not be a normal Thanksgiving for us. The stuffing will be boxed and the green beans will be frozen. And while the pumpkin pie will not be home made, that is not what is going to be different. It will be the absence of my Mom. This year, more than others I appreciate Thanksgiving for what it really means; being thankful for those who I share my life with. Its not about the food, it’s about the loved ones that you share the food with. If the Thanksgiving meal had been handed down to be pickled herring, lutefisk and beef jerky, we’d be just as happy to spend the day with our beloveds albeit with much smellier breath.
So as I approach my first Thanksgiving with out our resident chef, I will not worry about if the gelled cranberry sauce has melted a bit, or if we have green beans without the casserole. I will be happy to spend time with my family and keep in mind that Mom is only a phone call away.