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

Changing Seasons

The squirrels in our backyard have been crazy busy since early September getting ready for the changing season. They scramble up the oak trees and chew off the the small branches laden with acorns. Once the branch hits the ground, the squirrels come back down the trees, gather the acorns and put them in their secret hiding place.  After the acorns are stripped, the branches remain on the ground in a scene that resembles a micro burst storm.  All this work so they’ll have enough food to sustain them through the winter.

As I was putting the duvet cover on the down comforter today, I thought about the squirrels and how we prepare for changing seasons. If you’ve never had the opportunity to put a down comforter in a duvet cover, you should try it sometime. You’ll need a large room devoid of all furniture because you’ll need lots of room, and you may want to check out Youtube just in case someone’s figured out a better way to put these two things together. It’s not an easy job, it requires concentration, the ability to crawl on your hands and knees and dexterity to tie tiny knots.

Putting the down comforter on the bed represents the beginning of the next season. The season of harvest vegetable soups simmering on the stove, of real wood fires in the fireplace, of long brisk hikes along trails laden with leaves and pine needles. It’s the short season between the onset of the cooler weather and the impending holidays. It’s a time to savor the change while it’s still new, embrace the darkness at 4:30 and like the squirrels gather our treasures to sustain us for when we enter the next season of craziness called the holidays.

Making Lists

Making Lists

“Making a list, checking it twice”. we all know where that’s going. How many out there are list makers? I plead 100% guilty to this habit of constantly making lists. Sometimes I’ve actually caught myself making a list of the lists I need to make! That usually happens around the holidays when I struggle to juggle the schedules of our family that includes our parents, six grown kids, their significant others, and our six gifted and extremely talented and very loud grand-kids. Have you ever wasted time on Pinterest or Amazon looking for just right vehicle to use to make your list? Have you seen the really cool journals you can use to make the lists? Of course, once you get the new journal, you just can’t use an ordinary pen or God forbid a pencil…you need the right type of pen, preferably in many colors, and you need some fancy stickers, and some type of tape…and then you get hooked into watching a 20 something set up a journal on Youtube. Of course all of these lists could be made on the back of the envelopes that we get on a daily basis letting us know we’ve just been approved for a new car or a credit card!  But there is some type of satisfaction in the ritual of both writing the lists and then the best part, crossing off stuff you’ve accomplished! Writing lists is how I arrived here today with my very fist blog post. I made lots and lots of lists during the year preceding my retirement, it mostly helped me to get through the endless flights when the battery died on the iPad when I was stuck in a seat without a plug…So here’s to lists and journals and retirement..stay tuned, there’s lots more to come!