Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Thanksgiving...

I heart Thanksgiving.  What a great holiday.  Family, food, the opportunity to use our dining room and fine china, to entertain, and give thanks.

We're hosting Thanksgiving this year for Deonne's family.  The kids are so excited they can't stand themselves.  And I understand that... I used to look forward to major holidays as a child because it meant a chance to get together with our cousins.  Thankfully my cousins were very close in age to my elder brother and I, so we had loads of fun running around together either at our house in the Tri-Cities or theirs just outside of Portland.  Oh the trouble we'd get into - and the adventures we'd go on.  The world was there for our taking, and we had such fun imagining and pretending and exploring.

I remember one year when my parents hosted a big huge family reunion for Thanksgiving.  So big, in fact, that in true 'Christmas Vacation' style, we had relatives camping out in our RV in the driveway.  We had people packed in our house from top to bottom - and I think us kids were on sleeping bags in the family room.

Mom started cooking at the crack of dawn, fussing about the kitchen preparing a Thanksgiving feast for the oodles of relatives that had descended on our home.  And the turkey.  The turkey was so big that year that it bent the roasting pan and barely fit in the oven.  No wonder mom started cooking it in the wee hours of the morning - it probably took 14 hours to cook a bird that big.

But it was fun.  I remember lots of laughing, lots of talking, stories of 'back in the day', and of course, running around causing havoc with my cousins.

So it doesn't surprise me one bit that my children look forward to this holiday as well.  They can't wait for Grandma and Grandpa and the rest of the Long clan to come to our house.  They adore their cousins and look up to them so much.  Of course, their cousins are significantly older then them, but they are kind and gentle and willing to play their silly games.  I'm so thankful for that.

And for me, I look forward to cooking a big Thanksgiving feast.  I like to cook, to set a pretty table, to provide a lovely experience for family and friends.  But more importantly, cooking meals like Thanksgiving soothes my soul.  It brings me back to the Thanksgivings of my childhood when I'd help my mom roll out the pie dough - barely able to see or reach the top of the cutting board she'd pulled out of the cabinets - or when my dad would make a big show of carving his prized turkey.

I miss my parents so much - and feel the constant ache and void in my heart that nothing can replace.  But keeping busy, fussing over the table, baking pies, and conjuring up delicious dishes helps keep my mind off the fact that I'm not with them.  And I'm hopeful that the time I spend in the kitchen with my two (okay, three) eager helpers is instilling in them the love of the holiday as well - so that someday - they too will recall helping mommy roll out the pie dough when they could barely reach the the top of the counter.

We'll start our preparations this weekend - ironing linens, polishing silver, and making cookie dough (because what's a holiday without sugar cookies in the shape of turkeys and pumpkins, right?)  Ha.  And over the course of next week we'll bake cornbread for the dressing, rub the turkey with our secret mix of spices before Deonne fries it Thanksgiving afternoon, roast turkey wings (for the drippings - the down side to frying turkeys is no pan drippings for gravy), wash and snap green beans, make the pie dough for our homemade pumpkin and maple-bourbon pecan pies, and prepare the other myriad of dishes for our bountiful feast.

And I have a few tricks up my sleeve as well - some fun crafty things for the kids to do (thanks in part to Kathy - you ROCK!) on Thanksgiving day.  My hope and plan is to have most everything completed on Wednesday (except the obvious things that have to happen on Thursday) so we can enjoy our day together. 

And maybe, just maybe, all of my busyness and planning will keep the tears at bay - at least until Thursday night when the quiet settles in, when the last dish is dried, the last bit of food put away, the kids have been bathed and put to bed with visions of Christmas on the horizon, and Deonne and I retreat to our respective dents on the couch.  It's usually then that I let the sadness come in. 

And that's okay.

1 comment:

  1. Oh friend, I can so relate....Your post made me cry. I could have written this nearly word for word. The holidays are full of such bittersweetness....I'll be thinking of you as I'm doing the same preparation over here.

    And I have to give the credit to Shannon for those great printables. She passed the link to me. But I am so happy that your 3 little cuties will be enjoying them as well.

    Thanksgiving Blessings to you and your family.