Hello Beautiful Souls-I am feeling much calmer this week remembering when I was young and how the intensity of getting ready to host the big Thanksgiving meal felt. Recalling the feelings of anxiety preparing to embody my perception of perfection. Making sure the house was spotless and the table was appropriately decorated with a festive table runner and cornucopia along with the dinnerware, silverware and stemware that only got used once a year. The food was prepped and in the depths of all the planning and with all of the consumption for excellence, I would often forget to be grateful on the day of Thanks Giving. While in the midst of the holiday chaos, I could easily lose sight of the reason we were gathering on this Thursday in November. If you are the cook in your family, you know that the time at the table is a short respite from the eminent clean up that follows, (and I hope you get help with that) and as soon as the clean-up from the hors d’oeuvres and the main meal is finished, it begins again because everyone is ready for a slice of their favorite pie and coffee. The day starts early and ends late. Through the years, the folks sitting at my table have changed and so have our lives. It’s a much different holiday for me these days, there is no anxiety, my perceptions of perfection has changed and I am comfortable leaving the good china in the cabinet. I remember to be grateful each and every day so Thanksgiving offers a double dose of gratitude.
I wonder if you’re like me and over the years, between your kids and your husband, your parents, your partner, your family and friends, you’ve made a special connection through a special dish or recipe that the special folks in your life have to have on the holidays. The more people you add to your tribe, the more special dishes get added to that list. It’s these favorite dish requests that I want to include in the feast because I want that person to know how very special they are and I want to honor that through the food I prepare for them. Always adding that extra special ingredient…LOVE! We have a traditional menu request in our family that started when my boys were very young. I was preparing our dinner rolls for the holiday meal. Each muffin compartment in the tin contained two balls of dough and as they raised to the desired height, my son looked at them, patted them ever-so-gently and told me they looked like little butts. Since that day, they will be forever referred to and requested as, “butt rolls” by my family.
I remember getting irritated with my mother for not being able to remember who liked what and who disliked what in our family. My mom had three girls, what could be so hard? It wasn’t like my two close friends growing up with 7 and 8 kids in their family. How did those mom’s do it and how did they keep their families’ favorites straight? I can’t even do it with two! Well, admittedly, it is easier to remember my kids’ favorites, it’s a bit more difficult to remember their dislikes. I try to keep everyone happy and remember these things especially now that the times I get to feed them are less and less. I say get to feed them, because that is how I feel. It has always brought me great joy to feed my family. There is something instinctual about wanting to provide my family with food. There is a level of pride and a higher level of the actual cooking and baking that holds the intention of what feels like a gift for my family. Whether it’s the holidays or not, anytime I can sit down and break bread with the people I love, it brings me intense joy. For me, food is love and preparing food is an act of love. Maybe this is an old-school value passed down to me or maybe this is simply a mom nurturing thing, whatever it is, I have it and I always have.
About a week ago, I got a vivid image of a treasured memory. Something I hadn’t thought about in a long time and something I haven’t been a part of in a long time. A tradition that fell into the background because it was simply no longer available to me. My mom and sisters and I always baked and cooked for the holidays. I have fond memories of those times shared with my family. I have very fond memories of baking and cooking with my sons and sharing holiday traditions while they were growing up. I was remembering all of these experiences, both in my childhood and my early adult life of a kitchen filled with love and laughter and sharing a passion of baking and cooking for the special people in our lives. Today, as I have my recipe cards spread out on the table, I realized why these dishes and these recipes are so special. My recipes represent generations of cooking and gathering and filling our home with food and love and family. I gaze over the handwritten recipes that feel like love letters to me from all the nurturers in my life, each filled with measurements and ingredients and instructions. My very favorites are stained with batter and splatter and extracts and food coloring which makes them even more endearing to me. I hold their legacy close to my heart as I hand-pick the ones that will be used again this year to be prepared with love and to fill our bellies, but most of all to fill our hearts.
Even if you can’t sit with your favorite people on this special day, I hope you get to visit with them and talk and share and laugh and love. That is what I am grateful for on this Thanksgiving, I have loving family and friends in my life whether we are at the same table or not, they are in my thoughts and in my heart always.
Maybe your family has changed or your circumstances have changed and your table doesn’t look the same as it did last year. I hope you have a table and some food, but most of all, I hope you have someone to call family. Someone to be grateful for in your life. I hope you have time to share with them and if you can’t, I hope you take the time to tell them they are loved.
I am grateful for my family and friends and I am grateful for a day to give thanks. I am grateful for my best friend, my husband. I am grateful for my sons and my daughter-in-law. I am grateful for simple. I am grateful for difficult. I am grateful for my pets. I am grateful for my followers. I am grateful for new opportunities. I am grateful for confidence and courage. I am grateful for all of my heartaches, betrayals and pain because without them, I would not have the knowledge and the wisdom to grow my soul. I am grateful for my breath. I am grateful for this life!
I hope you can fill an entire page listing what you are grateful for. If you don’t think you can fill a page, start by one thing to be grateful for each day. It is a wonderful practice to adopt into your heart.