Holidays are all about traditions, aren't they? Each family develops their own, and, whether they're good or bad, we seem to get stuck on repeating them until some fateful incident forces us to do things differently. Thanksgiving had more traditions for me than most holidays, maybe because it's a food-family centered holiday, rather than a gift/party/event centered holiday. When I was a child, I was always awakened about 7 am by the sounds of my grandmother stirring around in the kitchen, getting the turkey stuffed, whipping up the pies. She insisted on getting the turkey in the electric roaster at least 6 hours ahead of time. She would complain a lot about all the work involved in these holiday meals, yet she'd never let anyone help her.
My grandparents lived with us, and my grandmother was pretty much in charge of the kitchen. My mom was always cooking along beside her, but there was no doubt about who wore the head chef's hat. My grandma's been gone 15 years, and my mom has since revealed to me that it simply drove her crazy, the way my grandma took control of all the meal preparations.
Who knew? I was just a kid, my grandma was a wonderful cook, and I loved to eat. So I have some really happy memories of Thanksgiving - while unbeknowst to me, my mom was quietly having nervous breakdowns.
When I became an adult, married, and with a home of my own, my mother in law became our Thanksgiving chef. It was the only meal I really knew her to cook. She would come to our house (which used to be their house, after all) and prepare the turkey from start to finish - meaning she was around for most of the day. It would take a lot more words than those available in one short post to explain why this was enough to drive Jim and I to drink. Suffice it to say, I too have suffered my share of silent nervous breakdowns on Thanksgiving.
Over the years our Thanksgiving table - while never large - has now dwindled to just three -Jim and I, and my mom, who usually cooks in her kitchen, of which she is now in total control. It's a quiet day, a small meal really, but we still eat too much and the dogs get too many tidbits. That's traditional too, isn't it?
But I give a silent nod to my grandmother, who may be bossing the angels around in heaven's kitchen as we speak, and one to my mother in law too, whose craziness is only too familiar in the Alzheimer's facility she lives in.
They are part of my Thanksgiving canon of memories and traditions, and I'm grateful.
May you all enjoy your Thanksgiving, your traditions, new and old, and good memories of days gone by.