Thanksgiving is the time of year when we gather with family and friends to eat an enormous meal and to give thanks for all we’ve been given. I’m thankful for an understanding husband, our children and grandchildren, our three remaining parents all healthy and in their 90’s, a warm house, a full refrigerator, good health, a caring, loving community…..and Netflix..

Looking back on Thanksgivings past, so many memories flood my mind. As a young child with my parents, brother and sister, cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents we would often spend the holiday with my mothers Italian family.  Our Thanksgiving dinners always included some type of pasta and I have a memory of a stuffing that contained ricotta cheese. Yup, ricotta stuffed turkey…along with some other awesome Italian dishes not usually considered typical Thanksgiving fare.

Next, as a young wife and mother we would generally go to my parents for Thanksgiving, my mother was not only a fantastic cook, but she would also go the extra steps to set an elegant table and create a warm inviting atmosphere for our meal together. Between me, my brother and sister, we managed to produce 8 grandchildren in 10 years, which meant various booster seats, high chairs, tantrums and food fights…I think it took my mom the entire long weekend to put her house back together after Thanksgiving dinner.

One Thanksgiving that I will always remember took place in 2008. My sister Janet had passed away earlier in the year and my sister-in-law Joan was dealing with terminal cancer. At the last minute, my parents decided not to come, it was just too painful for them, the thought of never spending a holiday with their beloved Janet was just too much to bear. We ate dinner with our children, grandchildren, Joan and her husband and pretended there was nothing wrong. One of the biggest regrets in my life was never mustering the courage to tell Joan to her face what she meant to me. I was so afraid if I told her she would think that I was giving up hope that she would somehow survive her cancer. I looked and looked through all our pictures and none exist for Thanksgiving 2008 or Christmas 2008, we were all in shock, paralyzed with grief and pain. No one thought to take a picture, no one wanted to document the sadness. Sadly Joan passed 2 weeks after Christmas of 2008.

I can understand how some people like to avoid Thanksgiving, maybe they’re alone for the first time due to a death or a divorce. Maybe there is an estrangement with family members or different political views (very popular this year!) or anticipation of the consumption of too much alcohol which brings on its own share of craziness…

This Thanksgiving we will gather again and give thanks for all the blessings in our life. We will remember our loved ones who are not with us and we will celebrate our newest members, all gifts to remind us that life is an unending circle of love. And maybe, just maybe sometime over the long weekend we’ll watch Elf…

Happy Thanksgiving to you

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