Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gobble Gobble

I'm not cooking Thanksgiving this year, so this week kind of snuck up on me.  Normally I'm in high gear, having bought vast quantities of food, reserved my fresh turkey, and have written out the schedule of what will be cooked when.  I love to cook Thanksgiving.  It's exhausting, and my legs and knees ache afterwards, but the house smells delicious, and it's such a beautiful dinner to prepare for my family.  The table is set with a little bit of sparkle and some glowing candles, and there is so much food that there is hardly room for all of it.  And everyone is around the table enjoying and bantering and eating.

I have a very small house, so when we get 6 or more people gathered for dinner, trust me when I say that it's a houseful.  We're crowded, it's loud, and we have to drag the piano bench over to the table because I don't have quite enough chairs for 8.  If any of the grandchildren were here, they are now getting old enough to sit at the "children's table."  I remember sitting at one of two card tables my grandmother would set up for all of the cousins, while the grownups would sit at the large dining room table.  Once we were 12 or so, we could sit at the big table, but really, it was more fun to sit with my cousins.  There, we could put black olives on our fingers and eat them one by one.  If we wanted more of something our parents would come in and give us a refill of turkey or whatever we wanted.  If you were really a baby you ate your dinner at the small built in desk in the kitchen, always with a terrycloth apron tied around your neck like a giant bib.  The aprons always had some crazy print on them like dancing fruit or one with martini glasses and confetti that read "Happy New Year!"  No fancy designer aprons in my grandma's kitchen.  These were well worn and used until they had holes in them.  Serious holes.
I miss those big Thanksgiving dinners all together.  Now that our children are scattered all over the country, holiday time seems a little bit lonely.  My daughter is cooking her first turkey, and they are having dinner with some Puerto Rican neighbors.  In Colorado, Ronna will be making her homemade rolls for her little family.  I'm not sure of everyone else's plans.  We'll be joining my brother's family, my parents, and my aunt at my brother's country club.  My parents have been doing this with them for years now, and they love it.  In all fairness, my mother has cooked her share of Thanksgiving feasts, and she's happy, now that she's "older," to let someone else do the cooking.  She's thrilled that she doesn't even have to contribute to someone else's feast - this is one is completely non-work.  Just show up and eat.
I've heard it's really nice, but it's not Thanksgiving to me.  It's eating out.  I can feel myself getting stubborn and sulky, and I need to adjust my thinking.  It was nice of them to ask us, include us when they knew we'd be alone.  And I appreciate it, I really do.  But eating out on Thanksgiving brings me back to the first Thanksgiving we spent in New England after moving from California.  My dad was trying to show his kids New England in the days off from school and so we were traveling up through Massachusetts from New Jersey.  And we spend Thanksgiving at a Howard Johnson.  Depressing through and through.  We were far from our California home and everything familiar, and at 14 I just wasn't feeling the adventure of it all.   I wanted to be home - home where life was full of family and friends, not stuck in cold, dreary Massachusetts in a HoJo's for Thanksgiving.
Now that I'm beyond grown up, I can appreciate what my dad was trying to do.  He just didn't take into account a very homesick daughter.  I don't even know if my brothers remember it the way I do, (probably not) but it sure stuck with me - enough so that I've cooked Thanksgiving dinner just about every year of my adult life.  I haven't wanted to have a holiday away from home ever since.  Hawaii for Christmas?  No thanks.  Mountain cabin?  Meh...
Now that our kids and grandkids are scattered about, however, I'm rethinking.  "Home" doesn't quite have the same allure, or meaning when all of my dear ones are everywhere BUT home.  So next year, maybe we'll have to plan on spending at least part of the holidays somewhere where we have kids or (even better) grandkids.  If they can't come to us, we need to go to them, that's my feeling.  I have 4 days I'm not allowed to work during Thanksgiving, and another week between Christmas and New Year's.  I'm a contracted worker, and if it's a company holiday, I'm not permitted to bill any hours either, so there are almost 2 perfectly good weeks going to waste when I could be seeing my two little ladies in Massachusetts, or the other two princesses and the blue eyed pirate in Colorado.  Better planning next year is what's needed.
I am going to visit Scott and Ashley for a long weekend after Thanksgiving.  L is staying here and holding down the fort and meeting his publishing deadlines whilst I discover what Austin is all about and meet the new dog they've adopted. I'm very excited to do that.  I've never been to Texas and I'm looking forward to lots of fun and laughing with them.
And then the Christmas season will be in full swing.  My mother's birthday comes on the 10th of December, and after that, the days really starting flying by.  I'm glad that I've gotten almost all of the shopping done.  I have 4 more things to get, and all will be mail ordered, so I'm set.  I've even gotten a majority of the wrapping done, as much of it needs to be sent to the recipients.  It's been fun to imagine the little faces unwrapping the gifts I selected so carefully.
Wherever you are going, and whatever you're doing, be safe in your travels.  Enjoy your families.  Soak up the fun and the memories.  Come back with stories to tell and pictures to share, and I'll do the same.  Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. Can't believe you actually like to cook Thanksgiving dinner. Wish you were coming to cook ours!


    PS. Did everyone do that olive on the fingers thing??? And I don't like to travel on holidays much, either. But if the kids didn't come here, I would go to them, I guess. But I don't think I'd like it as well as making my own thing...

  2. Happy Thanksgiving, Karen. I hope you have a better time than you are thinking you will....


  3. I share your memory of the kids being seated at a card table on Thanksgiving. I always thought it was more fun than sitting with the grown-ups. The food tasted just as good and I never gave a thought to the paper napkins and cups we had to use. There's no place like home but as long as you are spending quality time with your loved ones it doesn't matter where you are. I know how much you miss your family scattered all over the country. I hope your upcoming trip to Austin is a safe and enjoyable one. Here's wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving, dear friend karen!

  4. I'm so sorry you won't get to be with kids or grandkids on Thanksgiving, but it's a good thing you will be with family.

    You're going to really love Austin, I think. If you like live music, some of the best in the nation is right there, as well as places to eat, shop, as well as tons of history.

    When you get to Austin, look carefully to the southeast. You'll see me waving a hearty welcome to you!

  5. You know what Karen? That was a wonderfully authentic look at Thanksgiving as it evolves over the years. And as we adjust to life's changes. I loved it. I remember the piano bench being added to the seating options at the table too! I usually sat on it with my grandmother. She was such a joyful little plump woman! I loved how you referred to yourself as "beyond grown up"! I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  6. Isn't it funny the memories that we create for the holidays? I got tired of having to juggle between my family and Splenda's so when my oldest got married, I declared we do our own thing. Twice we've gone to Golden Corral and it's been fun but not the same. This year, for the first time, I'm (and by that I meand Splenda) is cooking it all and we'll have two thirds of our kids home. It will have to do.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. We did Disneyland one Thanksgiving, and that made me realize it was a HOME holiday.

    I'm with Sue. Hope it's better than you think it will be.

    Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

  8. What!? Why didn't I know my mother and your brother, and your mother and my brother share birthdays? Amazing! And, I don't intend to be anonymous, but am technically challenged on your blog.

  9. Hi! Happy Turkey Day! I hope the Country Club treats you well. We are doing something similar. It will be a non-traditional thanksgiving this year with little homemade anything and no family. Hopefully it will feel like Thanksgiving :)

    Have a good one!

    you had to be there

  10. I remember the many times I had to work (as a nurse) 12 hr shifts on Thanksgiving...seemed worse than Christmas even...I have Thansgiving at my house and tell my kids to plan on being here...they can go wherever they want all the other days...
    happy Thanksgiving. enjoy your family and a stress free day.

  11. Enjoy your day and I hope that special Thanksgiving feeling squeezes in to surprise you! We'll be having 3 out of our 4 sons and families this year. #2 son and his family have finally moved into their new home in Portland, Ore...and we miss them a ton already! I feel bad because all my siblings are at my Mom's this weekend and I'm the only one not there because I'm on call this weekend. What a bummer that is! Oh well, we must endure I guess...I'm thankful for your fun blog and friendship (even though we've never met!) Take care!


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