I’ve been looking through as many of my photos as I can get to and can find almost none of our Thanksgivings. Especially the meals. I asked my son about it today and he said it was because I was always busy cooking and never had the time to really enjoy it. That’s not going to happen this year.
I didn’t grow up with Thanksgiving. It’s an American holiday and my mother had a hard time grasping its purpose. As a young war bride, she had seriously limited cooking skills. You could actually say very little that came out of her kitchen was tasty for most of my growing up years. We ate it anyway.
Our first Thanksgiving at age six in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was fraught with frustration. First there was little money for all that food and turkey was foreign to her. A kind and generous neighbor brought over the very first turkey mom had ever seen. Unfortunately, it still had its feathers and head. The neighbor was asked politely to take it back home with her. That sweet woman plucked and prepared the turkey to go in the oven explaining to mom how it was done. We invited another hungry military family to share it with us. That’s how many military families survived.
While in elementary school on base in Germany, we were asked to bring in a washed potato to make an art project. It was destined to become a turkey with paper tail feathers. Mine never made it to art class. I was hungry and the raw potato tasted just fine to me. I didn’t need that paper going to waste. We didn’t have Thanksgiving dinner at our house until years later.
Many later Thanksgivings were spent by my own young family with in-laws, or out of the country where we had no stove, much less an oven. Tradition was fluid and flexible.
When we had our own home, the first Thanksgiving was such a big deal because we had invited both sets of parents to join us. Mine had far to travel and my mother-in-law was a great cook. Nothing like setting the bar all the way at the top. I cooked a 30-pound turkey that year and with my dad’s direction and advice, it came out PERFECT!
Every year, Thanksgiving is different. The number of people who show up for dinner, the food changes with some of the old favorites showing up repeatedly until they don’t. I’ve gone from making everything myself from scratch with lots of leftovers to quick and easy for only a few. This year my daughter, sister and I will go out for a buffet lunch/dinner in a restaurant. Maybe I’ll take photos this time.
The one thing that never changes in all the years of Thanksgivings is the thanks. No matter where the food comes from, I am grateful to have it. I’ve had 17 at my table and once there were only two. I’m grateful for the restaurant that cooks when I just don’t have the energy and for family to share the meal. I’m grateful for the air I get to breathe and a body that can move and work. It’s the little things that matter. Having family at the touch of a button or within grasp. When I wake, I’m grateful for another day to choose what I can make of it. I’m grateful for the rain we desperately need and so much more.
While I was looking through my photos, I found this and thought it was a good time to share it. I’m grateful for the ability to put pen to paper and wish everyone a great day of gratitude and a full stomach.
From my heart to yours,