This is my absolutely favorite holiday. I love the food, appreciate not having to decorate the house or buy gifts, and treasure the chance to be with family and, sometimes, close friends. For the last forty years, with only a few exceptions, I have cooked and hosted and never minded the chores. What were the exceptions? Those that I remember include one when my then husband was in flight school, and we were living far away from family. Some old family friends included us in their dinner, and it was delicious--but no seconds were offered. I still haven't gotten over that! Two years ago, my husband and I and my younger daughter and her family all went to MN to have the holiday with my older daughter's family. That was wonderful. There was also a year, soon after Lowell and I came together, that we went to New York to be with his father, stepmother and her grown children and grandchildren. That was also delightful and brought a new sweet potato dish to my table.
This year, though, we have everyone with us. My MN daughter and her family arrived yesterday afternoon; when Lowell came in from work, he was greeted with bedlam and three small girls in dress up clothes (each some version of a beautiful princess) literally jumping up and down and yelling: "Gramps is home!" That was a moment that I have tucked away, thinking "It just does not get better than this."
The house now smells like roasting turkey; the table is set, and all the sides are made and ready to be cooked or warmed. We await the rest of our family including a very pregnant daughter and a nephew and his wife with their one month old daughter. We will raise our glasses and speak the toast that has come through our generations: "To the family: Some of whom are gone, a few of whom are here, most of whom are yet to come. To the family."
And how lucky I am for all of you. When we sit together at Thanksgiving dinner and speak of our blessings, I mention my family and friends and health. I don't talk about you because I want to share that with you and only with you. It has been a blessing beyond description to have done this work for more than thirty years and to have shared your lives. I have loved so many of you, lost too many, and worry now about some. We are all acutely aware that we have no promises and, even years after finishing cancer treatment, we wonder about next year. But we have today and we have each other, and we can depend on that trust and love and understanding and safety.
I just learned yesterday of Peg's death. Carol died a week ago. Patricia died a month or so ago, but we just heard the news. I think of them and of all the remarkable women whom we have loved and lost. As Carol remarked this summer when she spoke of Deb and Grace: "They taught us how to do this and set a very high bar." True. But even more important than teaching us how, when the time comes, to face death, they have taught us how to live. We notice and we appreciate and we try hard to stay in the moment. We may look at the dark night skies and wonder how we can fear that darkness when we have so loved the stars. At the risk of extreme sentimentality, you are all my stars, forever glowing, and I am thankful. And humbled.
And I will really enjoy the mashed potatoes and stuffing without one second of concern for calories. Hope that you do, too.