Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, way up there with Halloween and Christmas. When I was really little we celebrated Thanksgiving at my grandmothers’ houses. They traded off Thanksgiving and Easter every year. Eventually, the big feasts got to be too much for them. We had a couple of Thanksgivings in a noisy, overcrowded restaurant until my mom took over. She refused to spend another holiday packed in like one of too many sardines at the Red Coach Grill. She cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the next twenty or so years.
After I moved to Switzerland, I continued to celebrate Thanksgiving. I created my own traditions and gathered friends together for the annual harvest feast. I love to cook and entertain and Thanksgiving dinner became one of my trademarks.
When I moved back to New Hampshire, I was delighted to host the family. For several years, at least eight, and sometimes more, Nye’s joined me around my farmhouse table for a fun and festive feast.
Last summer my dad pulled me aside for a heart to heart. My parents spend most of the winter in Florida and he was reserving their flights. He candidly confided that he couldn’t quite handle a trip north for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Between Alzheimer’s and arthritis, travel is difficult for my mother and therefore very stressful for Dad.
I didn’t like the idea of them down there alone, having dinner in an overcrowded restaurant or any restaurant for that matter. I decided to spend Thanksgiving with them on one condition. Like my mom before me, I decreed that dinner would be at home. I would cook a turkey and all the trimmings for them and some of their close friends.
We had a wonderful time. Four of their oldest, dearest friends joined us. I knew them all, most for close to a decade and one for more than forty years. I got a little fancy with a couple of side dishes but did not mess with tradition when it came to the turkey and made my mother’s stuffing.
Sitting around the table with my parents and some of their nearest and dearest, reminded me of how thankful I am for their friends. I am grateful that these wonderful people love my mother and accept her frailties. I am thankful for the love and support they give my dad.
It looks like the start of a new tradition. Yes, I’ll head south again next year. I’ll improvise in my parent’s decidedly ill-equipped kitchen, debate how long to roast the turkey with my dad and suffer bad hair days in the steamy heat. But most of all I will rejoice and celebrate the time with Mom, Dad and their dear friends.
What about you? What are you thankful for this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you.
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