Melancholy turkey

Thanksgiving weekend is upon us.  I know, I go through this every year for my US-based blogfriends, apologizing for having Thanksgiving in October.  It’s what we do, as Canadians. 

The actual holiday is Monday – day off work, school, banks and beer stores closed, etc., but most people I know – my family included – have their big dinner on Sunday.  I guess it gives you that extra 24 hours to digest the 3 pumpkin pies and 20 kilos of mashed potatoes we all seem to ingest, as well as a bit of extra time to try to remain upright for an hour or so at a stretch.  Seriously, it’s all about gorging isn’t it?  That’s what we have to be thankful for!  

Ok, but seriously, it’s a great holiday and for me it kind of signifies the true beginning of the autumn season.  By now the leaves are close to their colourful best, the air is cool in the mornings, but warming up by afternoon, followed by a nice crisp evening.  The forecast from today onwards is sun and warm temperatures and a whole lotta awesomeness, so there’s that to be thankful for too!

This also marks another “first” in this year of “firsts” that began when my mum died in May.  First Thanksgiving weekend without her.  By now, if she were alive, I would have been over there helping her do the shopping, picking up the turkey, planning the menu, helping her decide what little favours she’d put at everyone’s place.  We’d be laughing about how much wine we needed to buy (a lot) and how much beer my one cousin would bring (4 cans, which he would drink, and take the empties with him) and the godawful wine that my other cousins would bring (Maria Christina) and how maybe we should open that first and make them drink it, and save the good stuff for ourselves.  She’d have the menu written out and posted on the range with a magnet so she could keep track of anything.  She’d probably have made cabbage rolls by now – pork and beef for the most part, but a nice sized casserole dish of tvp ones just for me.  She’d be agonizing over how to arrange the tables and who should sit where.  She would be cleaning and cooking sometimes simultaneously, and if she was exhausted by the time the guests started to arrive, she’d never show it.  Every year she’d say “Christ, never again” and yet by January, she’d be planning Easter dinner – for 18 or 20  – again.

This Sunday, The Genealogist, The Musician, The Artist and I will be driving to The Genealogist’s parents’ place for a quiet dinner, just the six of us.  I am bringing a salad which requires very little preparation.  And the only conversations with my mum will be the ones in my memory, and in my imagination.  It will be a very different occasion, that’s for sure.  But I am grateful we’ve been invited, and we’ll have a lovely time, I’m sure.

As much as the Thanksgiving dinners my mum hosted were crazy-making ones, I know I’m going to miss them.  I already do.  I think that’s the best part about the family holiday get-togethers.  My family is bananas.  Yours probably is too.  We had lots of dinners and lots of laughs.  My mum kept it going, even after my dad died.  She was the glue that kept us all together, and now that she’s gone, well, you can see the cracks. 

I always said that after she was gone there was no way in hell I’d ever host those enormous family dinners.  No way.  And certainly this year I’m not.  It’s too soon.  But next year, perhaps?  Who knows.  It is family, after all. 

And it’s what I’m thankful for.

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