At their core, families are a collection of stories with memories. As we lose loved ones, or long to see relatives who spend more time apart then together, we relay on our families shared history of stories to keep the connections intact, our memories alive.
So many of my own family stories conger up around Thanksgiving. I can remember as a little girl watching my dad lay out crustless slices of soft white bread along our kitchen countertops well past my bedtime. Waking to the smells of tyme and garlic mixed with the typical morning coffee. I can remember putting on a pink jog suit with painted cookies which puffed above the fabric. I joined my parents in the kitchen, they were still together...so I must have been around four or five. I sat on the countertops and watched the celery being chopped, wiping tears from my eyes as my mom diced the onions. I helped stuff the turkey, surprised at how cold and empty it felt inside.
Years later, as a freshmen in college, I can remember packing my bags for Thanksgiving. Different from the person who left, reuniting with a home which had changed while I was gone. Transitioning to the idea that "returning" was now a weekend visit versus an extended stay. Home felt embracing, stable, warm. I was happy to rejoin a world where parents made decisions, and yet after being independent for the past three months, the idea of being "parented" felt foreign.
I can remember the year where we ventured from our head-of-the-household prayer and opted instead to go around the table each reciting what they were thankful for. When we came to my Grandpa we all bowed our heads. He was well into his nineties and we knew our days with him were limited. He gave thanks for his family looking each one of us in the eye as he spoke then took my Grandma's hand and with the upmost sincerity in his voice thanked the Lord for the love of his life. This was our last Thanksgiving with him.
There was the year that I waited too long to purchase my Chicago-Jackson train ticket. Shocked at the price of the few remaining seats, I decided to catch an "in-city" commuter going as far east as allowed, ending up about two hours shy of home. I called my dad to come pick me up, and as we drove home I told him all about my adventures in Chicago, the start of my career, my co-workders, friends, the best place for beers in Lincoln Park, and the new love of my life...Brian. I had purchased an outfit for my first homecoming since living in Chicago. I felt confident in my designer jeans and heels.
My first Thanksgiving to be celebrated in October as an American in Canada came three years ago. Brian and I were engaged and I was in charge of the soup. Butternut squash soup. I had grown up with this traditional prelude to turkey and looked forward to introducing it, an offering if you will, to my newly added family. I spent two days on this damn thing...baking countless squash, pureeing pulp, brining everything together. About half an hour before we were to leave for dinner I added what I thought was the last remaining ingredient, sherry wine. Just a quarter cup. Enough to bring out the sweetness of the flavours. But, this wasn't sherry wine...sadly no....this was sherry vinegar. And just like that the soup was ruined. I called my Dad, master of the butternut, to see if something could be done, and his response was a long, "ooohhhhhhh". We ended up dumping the entire pot in the garbage. I can remember trying to conceal my smeared mascara as we drove to my future sister in law's home, empty handed, for Thanksgiving dinner.
I will be making the salad this year. Leaving behind the now joked about high maintenance soup. We will be celebrating with our newly expanded family with Dashen joining the mix. We'll laugh as the kids try turnips and the adults drink wine. Celebrating with those close and thinking of loved ones away. Paving the way for generations of stories yet to be told.
A happy wonderful Thanksgiving from our family to yours.
Until Next Time- ABCD